Originally published October 22 2010
Rawesome Foods raw milk co-op raid conducted by criminal elements of local, state and federal law enforcement
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) On June 30, 2010, a group of armed government agents from local, state, federal and even the Canadian government illegally trespassed on private property and raided Rawesome Foods, a private food buying club in Venice, California. With guns drawn, these agents tore through the property stealing computers, raw dairy products and honey, all while holding some of the volunteer workers hostage for several hours. When the agents finally left, they took with them thousands of dollars in private property as well as the surveillance footage of their armed rampage.
Sounds like a scene out of a horror movie, right? Except this actually happened, though unless you're tuned in to the health freedom movement, you've probably heard nothing about it. Most of the mainstream media outlets would never touch a story like this because it exposes just how tyrannical and out of control our government has become on issues like raw milk and food freedom.
[Editor's note: The reason we took so long to publish this story is because we were waiting on some promised video footage of the raid -- footage that never materialized. It is not yet clear whether this footage was confiscated by police or simply lost, but there is reportedly additional footage of this raid that nobody has seen yet. I regret that we have so far been unable to obtain it for you.]
It all started back in 2005 when, according to a Rawesome member, an under-cover agent was able to trick workers and get into the club without a proper membership. The agent allegedly purchased some items there, and authorities used this as an excuse to come back and raid the club. They claimed that the club was engaging in commerce without a proper permit.
But Rawesome immediately notified the agents that the cooperative is a private buying club that doesn't sell to the public. Therefore, it's completely outside the scope of government jurisdiction. In other words, government agents have no right to come on Rawesome's property uninvited, unless they have a valid search warrant and a lawful reason to show up.
Rawesome submitted all the necessary legal documents to authorities after the first raid, showing that the club is a legitimate, private membership co-op, but that didn't stop the same agents from performing another illegal raid five years later. Except this time, the agents had already been warned that such harassment is illegal and unwarranted, so they knowingly trespassed on private property without a legitimate reason.
The idea behind private buying clubsBefore going any further, let me explain why private buying clubs exist. In order for most Americans to get food that's untainted, unprocessed and unpasteurized, they have to form legal buying clubs that operate outside the mandates of local health departments and departments of agriculture.
These mandates include things like requiring all dairy products to be pasteurized, requiring that certain toxic chemicals be used to clean processing equipment, and so on. So people that want clean, unadulterated food either have to grow it themselves or buy it directly from farmers that hold their same philosophies about growing and raising food.
But to purchase things like raw milk, for example, members have to sign agreements with farmers in which they literally purchase a portion of a cow or goat in order to legally gain access to the raw product from the animal. So members basically own a portion of an animal and go to Rawesome to pick up the milk from their own animal. This arrangement is often called "cow sharing" or "goat sharing."
In California, clubs like Rawesome are perfectly legal -- they're basically nothing more than a group of private individuals who collectively share products from the animals and farms in which they own shares. There's nothing criminal or illegal about it; it's what individuals are free to do in the United States of America (although in some other states, cow and goat sharing has been outlawed, if you can believe that).
But in Rawesome's case, the Feds ignored the fact that the club was operating legally and lawfully, and decided to raid the club on false grounds, apparently for intimidation purposes. The whole idea appears to be to send a message to other raw food operations that if they try to sell raw milk, they will be raided at gunpoint too!
False felony charges and missing warrant pagesFollowing a NaturalNews investigation into this case, there are several things I want to point out that deserve critical attention. First, agents conducted this raid on Rawesome under the false pretense that they were addressing felony crime charges.
But Matthew, a member of Rawesome, explained during an interview with NaturalNews reporter Ethan Huff that many of the agents who were there during the raid had no idea what they were even raiding, or why they were raiding it. (The following quotes are from Ethan Huff's conversations with Rawesome members.)
"Most of the local policemen who were there, they thought they were there serving felony warrants. And they weren't really told what they were serving them for," he explained. "One of the cop's mother shopped at Rawesome, so he was pretty upset when he found out that that's where they were raiding."
The agents were simply following the orders that had been passed down to them from higher-ups, even though these agents didn't really understand what they were being ordered to do, or the fact that their raid was technically illegal.
So what happened after they arrived?
"A SWAT team came initially, they ... took all the cameras, from what I understand they took financial data ... everybody's membership information, computers ... they took all the security footage that would have shown what the cops were doing."
"One guy was there with a camera, and they took his camera away and erased it, and they even made all the workers and employees stand up, and took pictures and profiles of everyone that was there. These are all Ron Paul type people ... so they were pretty vocal when all this was happening," explained Matthew.
Creating the appearance of guiltYou would think that with an armed SWAT team present, there was some sort of drug or terrorist activity going on, right? On the contrary, there was nothing criminal at all going on except by those conducting the raid in the first place.
According to the warrant that James, the operator of Rawesome, received from the agents, the supposed felony charges for which the raid was conducted were not felony charges at all. Every charge visible on the warrant was a misdemeanor.
Even worse, the warrant only permitted the agents to take "vial" samples of Rawesome products. But instead, the agents decided to just take everything they possibly could.
"They came in and stole ... 17 coolers worth of product, when on their search warrant it authorized the taking of vials of samples, which of course would have fit under your underarm in a soft-sided cooler. So ... why were they armed with 17 coolers when that was a violation of their own protocols on their search warrant?"
The agents not only confiscated thousands of dollars worth of food products, but they tagged most of the other food as "evidence" and ordered Rawesome workers not to "sell" any more of it to members. From about 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the agents remained on Rawesome's premises until they finally decided to leave.
Rawesome attends mandatory hearing the day after raid, gets no answersAs agents left the day of the raid, they informed James that he had to attend a mandatory hearing the following day, July 1, at the Baldwin Park, Cal. location of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). So James complied in good faith, bringing with him Tony Blain, an attorney and member of Rawesome, as well as another member.
Sitting around a conference room table at HHS were representatives from the FDA, the FBI, the local health department and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Tony verbally challenged the group's jurisdiction in conducting the raid, and informed them that the issue had already been resolved several years prior when Rawesome submitted all the necessary information to officials.
But after giving this testimony and questioning the agents repeatedly about why the raid even occurred -- while receiving no valid explanation -- Rawesome' crew decided to leave. They literally got up and left and haven't heard anything from those specific agencies since that day.
Rawesome didn't even receive a complete warrantAn interesting aspect to the Rawesome case is the fact that the agents didn't even serve Rawesome a complete warrant.
"The search warrant says, of the four pages we got ... "four of 16", so where are the other 12 pages," James stressed during a phone interview.
Sharon Palmer, a nearby farmer who raises club members' goats, has also been raided four times in the last year-and-a-half, explained James, and in the most recent raid, she didn't receive a complete warrant either.
"She only has three of 12 pages while we have four of 16 pages, so she called the DA (district attorney), who refused to give her any information, which of course would seem illegal is he's the man that was the person who signed [as the] authority, and then got a judge to sign the search warrant."
"So she called the judge, who then hung up on her. And then she went downtown to get her copy of the rest of the pages and was told that it's sealed."
But according to the few pages of the search warrants that both James and Sharon received, it was specified plainly that the entire warrant had to be served, so how could it legally be sealed?
"It's sinister, corrupt behavior," retorted James. "You would think that they're the ones that are way more corrupt than anyone else."
What's really clear from all this is that law enforcement officials simply make up the law as they go, abiding by nothing resembling due process. As we've seen so often before in the nutritional supplements industry, members of law enforcement will even falsify information in order to create fictitious warrants that give them an excuse to raid any establishment they wish. Read the history of raids on the Life Extension Foundation (www.LEF.org) if you really want to see some fascinating information about what goes on.
Check out this story I wrote in 2007 called Tyranny in the USA: The true history of FDA raids on healers, vitamin shops and supplement companies at:
Building and safety code officials illegally raid and assault Rawesome just two weeks laterIf it's not bad enough that an armed SWAT team unlawfully raided a private buying club and stole thousands of dollars of private property, consider the fact that just two weeks after the first raid, local building and safety code officials showed up and conducted their own mini-raid.
These building and safety code officials were not present during the first raid, but mysteriously decided to show up unannounced, and search the property to check for code violations. And in doing so, they broke the law and their own protocol by failing to give proper notice.
"The building and safety code people have their own protocols, which we've gone online to read," explained James. "If they want to enter a property in order to see if there's any code violations ... they are supposed to contact the owners of the property, in writing, and give us 30 days to get an appointment [set up] to come on the property."
"They did none of that, and decided to enter the property after they were even informed ... that it was private property and they were not allowed there."
According to James, these officials ignored warnings that they were trespassing, and proceeded to force their way into the building, physically shoving one of the Rawesome crew to the ground on the way in. So not only did the officials violate the law by entering illegally, but they assaulted a member of the club in the process.
What does the Canadian government have to do with all this, anyway?Perhaps the strangest fact about the Rawesome raid is the fact that the Canadian government was involved in conducting it. Since when does the Canadian government have any lawful jurisdiction over local affairs in the U.S.? What law gives them permission to violate private American property?
The answer, of course, is that there's absolutely no justifiable reason for the Canadian government to be involved in any civil affairs here in the U.S. And nobody at Rawesome seems to know why they were there, either.
"I had no idea why Canadian anything would be involved," expressed James. "I have no clue."
Rawesome to press charges against the government for illegal harassment and theftRawesome operates as part of the larger organization called Right to Choose Healthy Food (RTCHF) (www.Rawmilk.org), which is a non-profit trust association with local food buying clubs like Rawesome located all across the country. A few members of the organization are located in Canada, which is perhaps the alleged justification for the Canadian government's involvement in the raid.
Dr Aajonus Vonderplanitz, president of RTCHF, legally represents both Rawesome and RTCHF, and is working on filing suit against officials for their crimes against the club. And according to both James and Matthew, practically every Rawesome member has indicated that they're onboard with the suit.
NaturalNews obtained a copy of the letter Aajonus sent to these officials back in 2005, and it's more than clear that the agencies involved in the raid flat out ignored the letter. If they had read it and taken it seriously, there would not have been another raid (unless, of course, these agencies have a different agenda that operates outside the law).
Private buying clubs do not involve interstate commerceRegardless of what happened to prompt the first raid, there's no legitimate reason for government agents to raid a private buying club, especially if those agents deliberately planned a scheme to trick the club into selling to a non-member (entrapment, anyone?).
There was no terrorist activity, no prostitution, no drug dealing -- none of the outlandish things you would expect to have been taking place to justify an armed raid. This was just a regular group of folks pursuing healthy living through clean, whole, raw foods.
The whole things is really just another classic case of escalating government tyranny over private enterprise here in the U.S., and it's happening all across the country to many different co-ops and buying clubs. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves over the gross abuse of authority that today's government is criminally imposing over individual, sovereign citizens, especially on issues of basic food freedoms.
You can't sell fresh milk from a cow? Are you kidding? America was raised on raw milk from cows!
Federal tyranny escalatesThe Feds have been raiding buying clubs all over the country recently, including clubs in Ohio (http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=84445) and Wisconsin (http://wholefoodusa.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/alert-amishman-busted-fo...). And Massachusetts legislators recently tried to prohibit buying clubs via legislation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-e-gumpert/fight-over-raw-milk-mov...).
A lot of time and effort -- and taxpayer money -- is being spent bullying and intimidating innocent people who simply want to eat healthy food without government intrusion.
If the public really knew about all this -- and how much it's costing them in taxpayer dollars -- they would be outraged.
"If the public got wind of the fact that they're spending possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars while they're laying off firemen, policemen, schoolteachers ... the cities are broke and the counties and states are broke, and they're spending public taxpayer funds on raiding private membership clubs which have nothing to do with the public, wouldn't you think the public would be in outrage?" James explained, referencing a conversation he had with Sharon, a raw goat milk supplier.
He was also sure to note that it's most likely a few bureaucrats at the top who are driving this agenda; most of the people actually carrying out these raids don't even know that what they're doing is wrong. Cops are trained to just follow orders and not question them.
"I believe that 99 percent of all the agents and all the agencies are just ignorant. They're just doing their job. They don't know any better. They're trained to do something and follow orders," he emphasized. "I don't have any beef with any of those people. The only beef I have is with the few people, wherever they are ... writing all these ridiculous, insane, unfair, unjust laws."
But that doesn't justify the behavior of these agents, no matter who they are. They are still responsible for stealing private property, causing undue harm and trespassing illegally. When the cops become the criminals, stealing raw milk while intimidating those who are trying to preserve the availability of real food for health-conscious consumers, you know something has gone horribly wrong with law enforcement.
If you'd like to learn more about Right to Choose Healthy Food (RTCHF) or to find out what's happening with this case, visit: http://www.rawmilk.org to learn more.
NaturalNews wishes to thank reporter Ethan Huff for his investigative contributions to this story. If you find this story interesting, please forward this web page link to others who you think need to know.
NaturalNews, by the way, has a long history of covering illegal raids on food freedom champions. See my related story, Raw Foodists Arrested for Trafficking Chocolate; Interrogated for "Cacao Crimes" at: http://www.naturalnews.com/024304.html
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