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PA NEW MEXICO FOOD PROCESSOR AND MANAGER SENTENCED

Release Date: 12/04/98
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1998

NEW MEXICO FOOD PROCESSOR AND MANAGER SENTENCED

Cervantes Enterprises Inc. (CEI) of Vado, N.M., and Orlando D. Cervantes, Vice-President and General Manager, were sentenced on Nov. 30 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) in the first CWA prosecution in southern New Mexico. Cervantes Enterprises was ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 and Orlando Cervantes received three years probation. CEI processes red and green chiles into a mash. The charges arise from incidents in October 1994 and October 1996 when water used to wash the chiles was discharged into an irrigation drainage ditch that empties into the Rio Grande river. When examined in the laboratory, the discharges proved to contain chile seeds, pulp and pieces of chiles that caused significant reductions of dissolved oxygen levels in the water. A reduction in dissolved oxygen can harm fish and other aquatic life. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.

R-163 ###