FAIR OAKS FARMS TOP-LEVEL EXECUTIVES FIRED
Following ARM’s investigation, dubbed as the most extensive and most impactful dairy investigations ever conducted, Fair Oaks Farms terminated three top-level executives, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), COO and CSO.
ARM’s investigations also spurred multiple civil action lawsuits against the Fairlife Corporation, Fair Oaks Farms, and it’s Founder, Mike McCloskey, for misleading consumers of their animal welfare standards and commitments.
OPERATION FAIR OAKS FARMS DAIRY ADVENTURE
Operation Fair Oaks Farm Dairy Farm Adventures was the first release of a series of four in the most extensive dairy investigation in the United States. It was instrumental in cementing the truths of the systematic abuse and inherent cruelty associated with the dairy industry.
ARM considered the investigation to be the first realistic and honest audit of both Fair Oaks Farms and the Fairlife Corporation.
ARM’s investigations shocked the public to its core, and the egregious crimes and our heart-wrenching footage went viral around the world as people connected to how the food they consumed was treated and processed.
Upon its release, hundreds of retailers and major supermarket chains discontinued purchasing and selling Fairlife milk, and multiple nationwide and International protests took place. People around the world were inspired to use the footage, and the information that they learned about, to make more compassionate plant-based lifestyle choices.
Criminal and civil action has resulted from this case, with Fairlife facing multiple civil lawsuits for false advertising the treatment of the cows who supply the Fairlife brand, with exceptional care and comfort. Law enforcement arrested animal abuser, Edgar Vazquez, and two other offenders are on the run.
ARM’s investigation of Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventures also exposed a connection to the cruel and inhumane veal industry where male calves are sold and transported, including Midwest Veal, the fourth investigation – Operation Strauss Veal Feeds.
Click here to read ARM’s detailed report of Operation Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventures.
Operation Fairlife is the second of a four-part series of investigations of the most extensive dairy farm investigation conducted in the United States.
The second dairy farm investigated by ARM in Indiana is also a supplier to the Fairlife label. This release spurred an increase of public disgust, protests, and civil action lawsuits.
Operation Fairlife exposed violent abuse and neglect of dairy cows, in particular on the milking carousels, who were beaten, stabbed, including when they were too weak to stand. Cows were witnessed instantly on the milking lines straight after giving birth.
Furthermore, this investigation exposed Fairlife’s animal welfare claims as false, sending a shockwave to consumers. Consumers purchased Fairlife milk believing the milk was humanely sourced. Instead, ARM revealed Fairlife and Coca-Cola violating their animal welfare policies.
Click here to learn more about this investigation.
OPERATION NATURAL PRAIRE DAIRY
Operation Natural Prairie Dairy, located in Texas, stands as the first-ever undercover cruelty investigation into an organic dairy farm in the United States.
Operation Natural Prairie Dairy is also the third installment of the most extensive dairy investigation of all time into Fairlife and Select Milk Producers, Inc. The first two investigations released by ARM were Operation Fair Oaks Farms and Operation Fairlife.
A crucial component of this investigation addressed the countless and gross violations made by Natural Prairie Dairy in regards to the USDA’s organic dairy certification guidelines. Past and present violations, including pasture grazing stipulations, living conditions, treatment, and a slew of other violations, something an organic watchdog previously reported with no action followed up.
After ARM released this investigation, The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog group, filed another complaint against Natural Prairie Dairy.
This investigation also exposed that its owner and CEO, Donald DeJong, is also a Board of Directors member of Fairlife and has strong personal and business associations with Mike McCloskey of Fair Oaks Farms and Fairlife.
Click here to read the full report to learn more about this investigation.
OPERATION STRAUSS VEAL FEEDS
Operation Strauss Veal Feeds was the fourth and final installment of the most extensive dairy investigation ever executed within the United States. The three previous cases of this series of investigations included;
- Operation Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure
- Operation Fairlife
- Operation Natural Prairie Dairy
This particular investigation was instrumental in connecting the veal and dairy industry and impacted millions of people around the world on how there is not one without the other.
Highlighting the conditions in which veal calves endure instantly created criticism, this case was critical and stood to lead towards advancing animal welfare laws.
Click here to learn more about this investigation, review undercover footage, and media coverage.
OPERATION FREEDOM’S FLIGHT
Operation Freedom’s Flight has been an investigation that has continued sporadically since 2009 and became the driving force behind ARM’s creation. This particular investigation led to the fateful rescue of Freedom’s Flight, a descendant of the famous racehorse, Secretariat, who was discovered by ARM’s Founder, tied to a tree and next in line to be butchered for his meat.
As ARM’s first investigation, ARM operatives captured undeniable footage of violent crimes against animals while undercover on an illegal animal slaughter farm, known as Manuel Farm. At its conclusion, this investigation manifested into one of the most significant tactical strike force operations in South Florida, titled Operation Restore, in 2009.
While these operations were all shut down, many of them reopened soon after, due to a lack of enforcement, regular governing, and lenient sentencing of animal offenders in the C9 Basin – a renowned area of criminal activity within Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Manuel Farm was one of these properties and has since evolved into one of the most elusive criminal investigations in ARM’s history.
In 2018, ARM reopened its investigations upon Manuel Farm, owned and operated by Manuel Martinez-Coto, and gathered incriminating evidence of his continued participation in illegal and criminal activity of illegal slaughter animal operations.
Despite taking evidence to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement, Coto remained free. The State Attorney’s Office concluded that the footage presented to them from ARM’s December 2018 operation was not sufficient to prosecute.
On May 8th, 2019, ARM revealed its findings to the public through an investigative report story.
OPERATION BLACK CLOUD
In May of 2019, ARM released evidence from a 7-month long investigation upon an illegal animal slaughter and sacrifice farm known as ‘Black Cloud.’
During this time, ARM operatives collected incriminating video footage, including the dragging, handling, trading, stabbing, tormenting, hoisting, and butchering of farm animals. The slaughtering of animals was on all occasions in gross violation of the Humane Slaughter ACT.
The Black Cloud property sells Animals for Santeria, something confirmed with an undercover purchase in December of 2018, with the sale of a female goat that operatives requested to purchase for a ‘supposed sacrificial ceremony.’ The goat went back to the ARM Sanctuary, where she received medical care and now is a permanent resident.
The animal offenders committing the Black Cloud Slaughter Farm crimes involved three men and included the owner William ‘Billy’ Lathero, David Cox (butcher), and Ricky (butcher).
After this investigation, ARM presented the case to the Agriculture Unit from the Indian River Sheriff’s Department on February 13th, 2019.
ARM presented case evidence to the State Attorney’s Office and Law Enforcement. Both agencies determined that there was no probable cause for felony animal cruelty, and prosecution under the Humane Slaughter ACT failed. To date, there are no or actions by enforcement agencies.
The agencies’ lack of action prompted ARM to host a press conference on May 14th, 2019, to alert the media and the public with the findings of this case.
One of ARM’s main focuses is investigating and exposing the torture and exploitation associated with animal sacrifice. ARM continues to build its caseload to aid in amending current laws and legislation relating to animal sacrifice practices.
During 2019, ARM conducted multiple undercover investigations in India and Nepal. These included exposing elephant training and breeding facilities and the horrific exploitation of elephants forced to perform polo, racing, and more at the Chitwan Festival (Nepal). ARM’s footage was so compelling that it went viral around the world.
ARM also returned in October to document any changes that have occurred since it’s last operation in 2018. The footage obtained during these ceremonies was utilized in international campaigns to raise awareness of the torture. ARM also is working towards bringing solutions forth on practicing these deeply embedded rituals.
ARRESTS AND CONVICTIONS
A Fair Oaks Farms employee, Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, was charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a felony, in Newton County.
Unfortunately, the judge sentenced Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez to a year of probation, and the felony charge dropped. Something not surprising to ARM due to the high level of corruption and conflict of interest stemming from this investigation.
In 2019, ARM’S Fair Oaks Farms dairy investigations went viral around the world. Hundreds of media and news stories highlighted ARM’s this hard-hitting investigation and aided in shining the light on animal abuse’s truths associated with the dairy and veal industries.
ARM’s work featured in all major news networks. The coverage ranged from the front-page newspaper articles, CNN, Bloomberg business week, Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur, Forbes, NBC, Complex, Mirror, Univision, Telemundo, and many more.
ARM’s dairy investigations also lead five public streamed press conferences held on Operations Fair Oaks Farms, Fairlife, Natural Prairie Dairy, Strauss Veal Feeds, and Operation Black Cloud.
ARM’s successful caseloads highlighted by the mainstream media will serve as educational tools to universities, advocates, activists, and the general public. Plus, a reference for law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors on the heinous crimes occurring to animals in their neighborhoods and counties.
In 2019, ARM’s Humane Education team traveled throughout the United States, educating consumers, animal advocates, children, and society on the truths behind dairy, following its Fair Oaks Farms investigations. ARM also attracted crowds on all of its investigations and Sanctuary work.
For the first time, ARM exhibited and presented at EARTH X in Dallas, Texas, the world’s most massive running and attended environmentalism event. In 2019, over 177,000 people participated in this event over three days.
Amongst the years festival, conferences, and events, ARM also traveled to its first-ever international gathering in Vancouver, Canada. Over 20,000 people came to VEGEXPO 2019, and ARM’s booth received significant interest in its dairy farm investigations in particular.
In 2019, ARM’s Sanctuary Division continued to expand drastically. Much of the focus of this year was construction and improvements for the permanent residents.
A new turkey enclosure was constructed with beautiful coops and safe fencing to keep predators at bay.
The fighting roosters had customized condos built and outfitted with individual fans, exercise runs, swings, interactive toys, and musical instruments to keep them entertained.
Our pigs also had their field built out with shelters and a large, sun sheltered pond to keep themselves dry and cool.
ARM Sanctuary constructed a viewing tower for perimeter surveillance and to give visitors a unique vantage point to see all of the animals from a safe place. Besides, ARM Sanctuary completed updating all of the fencings on the property from wire fencing to safe and secure wooden fencing.
ARM’s goal is to continually strive to give everything that our animals need to live a stressfree and happy life.
OPERATION CAL MAINE
ARM initiated its first battery cage hen investigation, as a part of its Factory Farm Division, to address the widespread concern of the animal welfare of battery caged hens.
An ARM investigator was employed at one of Cal-Maine Foods’ egg production facilities, located in Lake Worth (FL). Cal-Maine is known to be the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs within the United States.
Whilst undercover, ARM’s investigator witnessed and documented animal cruelty crimes and atrocities upon the laying birds who were living under deplorable conditions and confined to overcrowded cages for their entire lives. Hens were being strangled, trampled to death, dying from illness, prolapsed uteruses, dehydration, starvation, egg binding and more.
At the release of the investigation, a manager of the facility was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. ARM’s investigation also raised awareness on the realities of egg production facilities which launched a nationwide campaign.
As a result of ARM’s investigations, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office raided Rancho Cabrera- an illegal animal slaughter and sacrifice farm located in West Palm Beach, FL. Rancho Cabrera was inhumanely butchering and illegally selling to the public for human consumption, an average of 1,500 – 2,000 birds per week. All without being rendered insensible to pain prior to slaughter. Animals at Rancho Cabrera were also being starved, malnourished, dehydrated and were disease ridden.
Three animal killers were placed under arrest at the release of the investigation, including the owner, Ricardo Cabrera, Chico Allen Cabrera (Ricardo’s son) and Roberto Llorente (animal butcher). An extensive list of over 90 felony charges of animal cruelty were filed on the three offenders including; Felony Cruelty to Animals, Conspiracy to Commit Felony Cruelty to Animals, Killing Animals using Inhumane Methods and Conspiracy to Commit Killing Animals using Inhumane Methods.
High Bails were set for the offenders in a Palm Beach County Court and Circuit Judge Ted S. Booras, stipulated that the defendants could not pay their bail with the money they received from their alleged crimes at the slaughterhouse. Prosecutors stated that the Sheriff’s Department seized $120,000.00 during their raid.
Rancho Cabrera and the illegal slaughtering and animal cruelty activities, are now shut down.
On June 28th, 2018, ARM investigated an illegal animal slaughter and sacrifice farm in Sunrise, Florida which led to the rescue of over 300 ailing animals.
A total of two arrests resulted from the operation. On the day of the raid, Kalito Jones was charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty and 7 counts of confining animals without proper food and water.
After evading law enforcement, two months later a second arrest was made on animal abuser and owner of the Sunrise slaughter farm. Whilst re-entering the USA, Nour Albandakji was detained by US Customs and was arrested and charged arrested for 17 felony and 7 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.
All of the animals were transported and underwent intensive medical treatment at the ARM Sanctuary where they will live out their natural lives.
OPERATION EL TRIANGULO
In March of 2018, ARM made a 911 call upon illegal animal fighting activity, occurring at Rancho El Triangulo – a large scale animal fighting operation located in South Miami, Florida.
ARM had been undercover at the cockfighting operation for over 6 months that was exploiting animals and operating an illegal gambling operation, as well as selling liquor without a license.
Instead of resulting in arrests upon hundreds of participants, local law enforcement released all of the attendees and animal abusers at the illegal operation.
Despite incriminating evidence obtained by ARM of an intricate, statewide network of illegal activity, to date a gross lack of law enforcement has maintained that not one arrest has been made.
Operations at Rancho El Triangulo have since ceased due to the exposure from ARM.
This has become of ARM’s most controversial investigations of 2018.
ANIMAL FIGHTING INVESTIGATIONS
In 2018, ARM investigated, exposed and shut down two illegal animal fighting operations. These involved organized criminal activity upon the underground networking of the breeding, selling, exploitation and fighting of animals- in particular game-birds, in South Florida, USA.
HORSE SLAUGHTER CASES IN 2018
Since its inception, ARM has investigated hundreds of cases of illegal horse slaughter, of which have led to the conviction and arrest of several notorious horse killers.
Throughout 2018, ARM has continued its undercover investigations of the Black Market Horse Meat Trade where horses are illegally and brutally slaughtered for their meat for human consumption. Several illegal horse slaughter operations were raided and arrests made upon the criminals involved.
In 2018, ARM investigated 24 individual horse slaughter cases, in addition to one of the largest discoveries made of a mass grave site where countless horse carcasses were found in a prominent horse slaughter area of Miami, FL.
RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE INVESTIGATIONS
In 2018, ARM investigated 65 animal sacrifice operations and ceremonial sites. Many illegal slaughter farms raise and publicly sell wild, farm and domestic animals to buyers who practice Santeria and other forms of black magic.
One of ARM’s main focuses continues to be building its case load so that it can aid in amending current laws and legislation relating to animal sacrifice practices.
ARM also travelled to Bangladesh to document the world’s most holiest of animal sacrifice festival, known as Eid-Al-Adha.
In 2018, ARM travelled to Bangladesh’s city of Dhaka, to document and expose the world’s most holiest and barbaric religious animal sacrifice event, known as Eid-Al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).
This was the first time that any animal protection agency has ever exposed the severity of this country’s disturbing sacrificial event where an estimated 14 million animals were killed and sacrificed. This included the 11.6 million heads of cattle who were specifically transported in from local farmers.
In addition to these incomprehensible numbers, countless animals were also smuggled into Bangladesh from neighboring countries, such as India.
ARM’s goal is to raise awareness upon the abuse of animals exploited in religious sacrifice as a part of its mission to amend and create animal protection laws for defenseless animals.
ARRESTS & CONVICTIONS
In 2018, ARM’s investigations led to 122 new felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty convictions and arrests.
Some of ARM’s greatest victories included two additional arrests that were made upon animal abusers from Operation Larson Dairy Farm (one of the four dairy farms investigated by ARM in Okeechobee, Florida). Juan Carrasco and Juan Carlos Hernandez were captured on film abusing dairy cows and were charged with animal cruelty.
An arrest upon violent animal killer, Osmany Toledo Suarez from Operation Delicias was also arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
Several other investigations of animal abusers are pending final sentencing and conviction in the Florida judicial system.
Another significant victory of 2018 for ARM related to a ruling reversal on a 2013 investigation at Operation Noche Buena. The third district Florida appeals court made the decision to reverse a previous ruling of audio and video, that is now to be accepted as evidence. The court also ruled that Rancho Noche Buena had no expectation of privacy at its illegal animal slaughter farm in South Miami, Florida.
This decision has aided in creating new state-wide law, and sets the tone in addressing and reopening other challenging cases.
RULING REVERSAL ON OPERATION NOCHE BUENA INVESTIGATION
One of the most significant victories of 2018 for ARM related to a ruling reversal on a 2013 investigation at Operation Noche Buena. The third district Florida appeals court made the decision to reverse a previous ruling of audio and video that is now to be accepted as evidence. The court also ruled that Rancho Noche Buena had no expectation of privacy at its illegal animal slaughter farm in South Miami, Florida.
This decision has aided in creating new state-wide law, and sets the tone in addressing and reopening other challenging cases.
In 2018, hundreds of media and news stories highlighted ARM’s hard-hitting investigations.
ARM’s successful caseloads which are highlighted in mainstream media, help to serve as educational tools to universities, advocates, activists and the general public. The exposure from the media, also serves as references for law enforcement, judges and prosecutors on the heinous crimes that are being conducted to animals in their neighborhoods and counties.
In 2018, ARM participated, presented and exhibited in over 10 nationwide events as a part of its Humane Education Division. This included various VEGFEST events, vegan body building event, Reducetarian Summit, CowCon and the Eat, Drink, Vegan festival.
These events are not only critical to raising awareness on the investigations which ARM conducts, but also to engage with the community on a more personal level.
Following controversial investigations such as Operation El Triangulo and the four cases in Ft Meyers Florida, ARM’s petitions generated over 200,000 signatures to government agencies.
Footage obtained from ARM’s Dairy Farm investigations in Okeechobee, Florida, have also been highlighted around the world with animal activist groups including ‘Anonymous for the Voiceless’ and Animal Save chapters. Protests have also continued on a regular basis by local and national groups, stemming from evidence that ARM uncovered.
Most of 2018’s focus at the Sanctuary was directed towards the intensive medical care of over 300 animals which were rescued in dire condition from Operation Sunrise. Due to extreme degrees of neglect and abuse, this rescue was ARM’s most challenging effort to date.
With the implementation of a veterinary training program, all of ARM’s animal carers have undertaken intensive training to provide the best care possible to the animal residents at the Sanctuary.
An expansive fencing project was undertaken and 15 animal enclosure were constructed for ARM Sanctuary’s residents amongst other major improvements.
Along with the hiring of experienced and compassionate animal carers, ARM hired a Director of ARM Sanctuary to implement a higher level of functionality and success.
In 2018, ARM Sanctuary also made leaps and bounds in further developing the ARM Sanctuary as its own not-for-profit organization.
DEVELOPED FACTORY FARM DIVISION
In 2017, ARM launched it’s Factory Farm Division with the successful release of it’s investigations, upon four dairy farms, located in Okeechobee – the most centralized area of the dairy farm industry in the state of Florida. During a two month long investigation, ARM operatives captured disturbing footage of dairy cows being forced to live in inhumane, unsanitary conditions and endure being repeatedly beaten, tortured, tormented and deprived on a daily basis.
To date, ARM’s Factory Farm Division has led to 12 felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions of animal abusers within the food industry. Three warrants for felony animal cruelty offenders are currently open. Final sentencing is still pending in the judicial system.
Stemming off of the dairy farm operations, ARM is pursuing a multitude of businesses and corporations relating to the mistreatment and truths upon animals utilized as by-products in the food industry for human consumption. In the final quarter of 2017, ARM also initiated it’s undercover investigations at the Cal-Maine facility in Lake Wales, Florida, where it unmasked the merciless treatment of chickens used in the egg production industry.
OPERATION LARSON DAIRY FARM
Operation Larson Dairy, sparked a four part series of dairy farm investigations, in Okeechobee, Florida. These investigations were not only the first of the newly developed Factory Farm Division of ARM Investigations, but they have been praised as the first type of investigations ever to be conducted, by any animal welfare agency, in this capacity.
The purpose of investigating the four dairy farms simultaneously, was to portray different levels of publicly, trading companies and corporations who were utilizing animals, in this case dairy cows, in this case; to profit from and produce raw milk products for human consumption. These dairies are some of the main producers for suppliers including Public Supermarkets, Walmart and Dixie Supermarket grocery chains.
Over a two month period, undercover operatives of ARM obtained footage, captured by the use of concealed surveillance equipment, from one of the milk production areas, referred to as Milking Barn # 5. Employees and supervisors of Larson Dairy were documented to beating the animals with metal rods, stabbing the animals with make-shift spear like instruments, punched in the face and beaten on a daily basis, three times a day. An immense disregard and abuse towards newborn calves was documented at Larson Dairy Farm.
At the reveal of the Larson Dairy Farm, public outrage travelled across the globe. Suppliers and supermarket chains, such as Publix, also suspended deliveries of the raw milk product from Larson Dairy.
Arrests served upon animal abusers at the Larson Dairy Farm included three arrests for excessive animal cruelty. Multiple felony warrants upon animal offenders are still at large. Prosecutions are currently pending in the judicial system for the captured animals abusers.
OPERATION BURNHAM DAIRY FARM
ARM’s investigation of a smaller scale family owned operation, Burnham Dairy Farm, entailed a two month investigation. Whilst covering overall abuse and inhumane crimes against the dairy cows onsite, this investigation also revealed cows resorting to lying in their own feces due to overcrowded barns and inadequate bedding, exposure to dangerous exposed electrical wires and being violently inseminated. Newborn calves, who were separated from their mothers at birth, were captured being confined in dilapidated structures with no shelter from Florida’s excessive weather. Many calves were documented as even drowning in mud at the Burnham Dairy Farm. Downer cows were also a highlight of this portion of the investigation.
Once the Burnham dairy investigation was publicly released, Publix and Southeast Milk discontinued rate milk products from Burnham Dairy.
OPERATION MCARTHUR DAIRY FARM / OPERATION DEAN FOODS
Considered as the leading producer of raw milk products, including such products as Tru-Moo, McArthur Dairy was revealed as the third dairy farm investigation in the final quarter of 2017.
McArthur Dairy is the most recognized name of the four dairies and is tied to Dean Foods- a corporate giant who is the largest dairy producer in Florida, and the second largest dairy producer in the world.
Animal cruelty crimes and abuse documented whilst undercover bought to light; cows being kicked, punched, shanked and tormented with flames to their face and udders. Extreme abuse also uncovered at McArthur dairy included the use of mechanical pulleys to prematurely deliver all calves and the torture of sick, injured ‘downer cows’, who were often discarded into trash containers by the use of chains, painful clamps and tractors- whilst still alive.
As the conclusion of this investigation, suppliers and retailers halted deliveries and sales of raw milk products originating from the McArthur dairy. Multiple criminal arrests were also made upon supervisors and employees who were charged for excessive cruelty to animals.
Several other investigations of animal abusers are pending final sentencing and conviction tin the Florida judicial system.
OPERATION DAVIE FARM
Davie Dairy was ARM’s fourth consecutive investigation of its factory farm launch. The atrocities that were highlighted from Davie dairy farm surrounded the abhorrent abuse, mistreatment and abuse of newborn and juvenile calves. ARM operatives documented calves being thrown, dragged, punched and kicked. Separated from their mothers, they were also thrown into excessively overcrowded transport units, often by hoisting them in the air and holding their ears.
This investigation took place over a two month period. To date, no arrests have been made on this dairy farm but as a result of ARM’s four investigation, animal welfare policies were taken into immediate attention, mandatory training of improved procedures was implemented upon all dairy farms, and the above addressed farms continue to be investigated by local law enforcement agencies and governing boards of the dairy industry as a whole.
ARM is working tirelessly on creating and enhancing current animal welfare policies with political liaisons , as the campaign continues.
ARM LAUNCHES DAIRY FREE EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN
In hand with it’s dairy farm investigations, ARM launched a three month long dairy free campaign, to raise awareness of the truths behind the mistreatment of dairy cows.
Two billboards were posted on the busiest highways in Florida (95 West Palm Beach and 95 Miami Beach), with a third billboard digitally displayed on a mobile advertising board which traversed eight hours a day, for two months, along South Beach- the most popular tourist beach destination in Florida.
Millions of people observed this campaign and contacted ARM expressing the impact which it had on them personally.
Due to ARM’s dairy industry investigations and awareness campaigns, ARM directly effected millions of people on their dairy consumption habits. Suppliers and retailers, such as Public and South East Milk, also discontinued ties of the raw milk products originating from the four dairy farms investigated.
HORSE NEGLECT RESCUE
In June of 2017, whilst working with the Plantation Sheriffs Department, ARM entered a horse boarding facility to investigate criminal activity of an animal cruelty and neglect case. ARM documented and determined the horses to be severely emaciated, neglected of basic care, without clean water or adequate shade and in dire need of veterinary care. Upon this discovery, ARMs animal rescue team collaborated with law enforcement agents and seized the animals into its direct care. The horses were promptly transported to the ARM sanctuary where they received immediate medical attention and assessment.
Since their rescue, all of the horse have been treated by professional care experts including veterinarian, farrier, and received dentistry care. Under stringent daily care, the horses are being handled by ARM’s equine specialists daily and are being carefully monitored and nursed back to health.
HORSE SLAUGHTER CASES IN 2017
Since its inception, ARM has investigated hundreds of cases of illegal horse slaughter, of which have led to the conviction and arrest of several notorious horse killers.
Throughout 2017, ARM has continued its undercover investigations of the Black Market Horse Meat Trade where horses are illegally and brutally slaughtered of their meat for human consumption. Several illegal horse slaughter operations were raided and arrests made upon the criminals involved. In 2017, ARM investigated five individual horse slaughter cases, in addition to executing an extensive underground operation which is close to revealing.
RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE INVESTIGATIONS
In 2017, ARM investigated seven animal sacrifice operations and ceremonial sites. Many illegal slaughter farms raise and publicly sell wild, farm and domestic animals to buyers who practice Santeria and other forms of black magic.
One of ARM’s main focuses continues to build its caseload so that it can work towards amending, and zeroing out animal sacrifice practices altogether, with the collaboration of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
CONVICTIONS AND ARRESTS OF 2017
In 2017, ARM’s factory farm division investigations alone, led to 12 new felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty convictions an arrests. Additional cases are still pending final arrests, including 3 felony warrants of the Larson dairy farm investigation.
Following the four dairy farm investigations in Okeechobee Florida, six men were arrested. Sentencing is still pending.
These arrests and convictions include;
Larson Dairy Farm:
Omar Jimmies Mendes charged with two counts of animal cruelty
Omar Guadalupe Mendosa charged with eight counts of animal cruelty (rebar, hitting and pulling.
Juvenile charged with four counts inc punching in under off a cow bending tail hit with reboot.
Three felony warrants are pending upon animal cruelty offenders who are at large.
McArthur Dairy Farm:
Mario Hernandez (supervisor) charged with animal cruelty and the excessive/repeated infliction of cruelty of animals.
Fernando Lopez, (caretaker) charged with animal cruelty for poking of cows with a pipe and breaking a cows tail
Gilberto Dorante charged with animal cruelty and the excessive abuse of applying a flamer to the cows udders.
Several other investigations of animal abusers are pending final sentencing and conviction tin the Florida judicial system.
MEDIA AND EDUCATION
Throughout 2017, ARM’s four factory farm investigations alone exceeded over 200 local, national and international media stories, featured around the world.
Today media coverage continues to serve as examples of critical case study for educational institutions, animal welfare panels, awareness campaigns and for general public education. ARM’s successful case loads are also being used as references for law enforcement, judges and prosecutors on the heinous crimes that are being conducted to animals in their neighborhoods and counties.
As a part of ARM’s educational and public outreach initiatives, in 2017 ARM exhibited, attended, presented and hosted seven successful events. This included the FARM Animal Rights Conference, HSUS Animal Care Expo (FL), SEED Festival (FL), Green Festival (CA), and the Give Miami event as the leading events, as well as joining in corporate collaborations with company’s such as Alex and Ani which ARM will be continuing to enhance in 2018. 2017 also paved way for ARM’s first fundraising event which raised over $15,000.
These events are not only critical to raising awareness on the investigations which ARM conducts, but also to engage with the community on a more personal level.
EXPANSION OF ARM’s SANCTUARY AND INVESTIGATION DIVISIONS
The 88 acre ARM compound, which houses multiple organizational divisions, has accomplished 85% of its overall projected goal completions. The divisions which fall underneath the main investigation focus, includes; ARM’s Headquarters, Investigations, Factory Farm, Sanctuary, Education, and Conservation Divisions. These improvements are leading towards a more professional and functional operation organization-wide.
Major property improvements and building has been executed that includes; the construction and completion of the investigator training facility, completion of the ARM HQ office, security gates and perimeter fencing and animal shelters and barns.
Additional experienced and highly skilled staff have also been hired to implement a more efficient and functional organization. These include, animal cruelty investigators, investigator project managers and critical support staff.
ARM WINS HISTORY MAKING ’SUPPRESSION OF AUDIO AND VIDEO’ PLEA
During a drawn out battle in court for the case of ARM/State of Florida vs. Jorge Garcia, the judge denied the defendants motion to dismiss graphic audio and video footage which ARM captured during undercover operations on Garcia’s illegal animal slaughter farm. This case marked the first time in history that the audio/video statute in an animal cruelty case was contested, creating new case law for all future cases stemming from ARM’s investigations. Prior to this new case law, most animal defense organizations chose not to investigate in the state of Florida because of the audio statute which threatens a chance of being sued or arrested for recording audio undercover. With this new case law, ARM and other organizations can continue to conduct covert undercover investigations inside of illegal animal cruelty operations in the state of Florida.
Located in Miami, Florida’s C9 Basin, Operation Gallo was the mother operation to Operation Foghorn. The operation would bring over 500 betters to the property per night. There were approximately 60 fights running per day, raking in a daily revenue of about 1 million dollars. This property had a casino like atmosphere. Betters and employees would play roulette, black jack, and 21 while waiting for fights to begin. Many of the betters and employees were armed, drugs were heavily dealt, and liquor was being illegally sold and distributed. Children were witnessed standing ringside, often taking part in their parents betting. During fight intermission, children were also seen using the fighting rings as a playground. Roosters who lost the bloody battles were either thrown carelessly into trash bags and trash cans alive and left to suffocate, or discarded along property outskirts which is considered environmentally protected land which had been illegally filled in with the arena-like fighting operation. Surrounding neighbors had lobbied and complained to law enforcement for years however, the property was never shut down.
ARM began deep undercover operations inside the property for over a year to collect evidence of extreme animal cruelty, then met with County, State and Federal law enforcement to discuss the case. Following the meeting, ARM was informed that the owner of the property had been tipped by an official who attended the meeting, and a week later the owner disassembled and closed the operation entirely. This goes to show the level of corruption that takes place inside of these illegal operations. There were however, several arrests of animal abusers who had worked at and attended fights on the property.
Operation Foghorn, the sister operation to Operation Gallo, was another large-scale cockfighting operation located in the C9 Basin of Miami, Florida and had been a targeted property of ARM for over a year. This property also had an arena-like and chaotic type of atmosphere. Employees were witnessed conducting Illegal liquor sales, many of the bettors and property workers carried illegal firearms and riots and fights frequently broke out after each cock fight. Some of the bettors would target the large money winners from that day, follow them home and brake in, in the middle of the night. The owners and many of the employees of this operation had a lengthy history of arrests for animal fighting and for a large number of the fight attendees, betting on the cock fights was their sole income.
This operation quickly became recognized as one of the most corrupt, prosperous and deeply connected animal fighting operations that ARM had seen to date. Some of the most well-known animal fighters and convicted felons in the state of Florida, congregated, participated and occupied this operation. Spectators would come to bet on the brutal fights which caused birds to suffer greatly, whether they won or lost. Injured and dying birds would either be suffocated in garbage bags or discarded into trash barrels and left to die, sometimes taking days, amongst broken beer bottles and other garbage. Spectators were also witnessed throwing the losing birds into the surrounding protected wooded areas or taking the birds home for human consumption. ARM also witnessed children carrying their parents fighting paraphernalia, drugs and betting money.
After ARM had collected substantial footage of animal cruelty on this property, the case was taken to different divisions of law enforcement, who then decided to take matters into their own hands. They went into the property undercover without using seasoned ARM investigators. Unfortunately, they were automatically ID’d by employees of the property. and threatened to leave immediately. This division of enforcement was not properly trained or educated on how to infiltrate these operations adequately, and without ARM, their cover was blown. Owners of Operation Foghorn then permanently closed their doors and sent the people who should have been arrested, into hiding. These individuals are now sought after around Florida and the United States.
OPERATION FREEDOMS FLIGHT
In 2008, Kudo rescued Freedom’s Flight from an illegal slaughter farm after visiting the property when volunteering with the SPCA. The farm was owned Manuel Coto who would sacrifice and slaughter all types of animals on his property in an extremely cruel and inhumane manner, his main commodity being horse meat. The cruelty he witnessed immediately put this farm on Kudo’s personal radar. It was after visiting this property that he became aware of the severity of the Black Market Horse Meat Trade and illegal slaughterhouse operations, not just in this geographical zone but throughout the state of Florida.
This farm then encouraged Kudo to focus on fighting and ending extreme animal cruelty. Stemming from his personal investigation of this property which then followed by ARM’s investigation, the property was then combatively raided in 2010. This property was the primary target of ARM’s C9 Basin investigations in which ARM collaborated with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and ended in the closure of up to 70 illegal slaughterhouses, animal fighting operations and animal sacrifice farms. This investigation and large scale raid, titled Operation Restore, became known as the largest animal cruelty investigation in U.S. history. Operation Freedoms Flight was the initial reason that the raid took place.
Unfortunately, months later Coto reopened his operation because it had only been shut down on building, zoning and code violations. After reopening, ARM continued its investigations of the area, keeping this farm in the spotlight. It was shut down again in 2013, after the owner was caught slaughtering animals without a license. ARM continuously fed County, State and Federal officials with information of illegal activity on Coto’s farm, which then led to undercover horse meat buys with the owner himself. In 2016, after two horse meat buys had been conducted, he was arrested for illegally selling equine meat for which he is now being prosecuted for. The illegal slaughter farm has finally been shut down and Coto is now awaiting trial, he is facing up to ten years in federal prison.
Stemming from ARM’s investigations of this operation, the story of this farm and its inhumane treatment to horses and other farm animals has been highlighted on news sources such as National Geographic, ESPN, MTV, Inside Edition, CNN, and other media outlets.
ARM LAUNCHES HUMANE LIVING EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN
In conjunction with the newly created Sanctuary Division, ARM is extending an educational focus on the correlation between ARM’s undercover investigations (specifically those relating to livestock slaughter operations) and importance of living humanely and compassionately.
ARM will begin to conduct unique and educational tours to visitors who want to learn more about ARM. Because this property must remain a black site and cannot be open to the public for the safety of the rescued animals, visitors will be screened and vetted prior to coming onto the property. Visitors will learn about closed undercover investigations and court cases, which will be followed by a tour of the sanctuary where visitors can meet and interact with the animals rescued from animal cruelty operations.
ARM will also provide cruelty-free products alternatives to animal products for visitors to take home at the end of their tour. After meeting and playing with the rescued animals on the sanctuary, this program will provide the visitors with an interesting perspective on the significance of adopting a humane lifestyle.
ARM’s NEW HEADQUARTERS
In 2016, ARM purchased a new property which now stands as ARM’s investigations headquarters. This property acts as ARM’s main office, ARM’s undercover investigative office, ARMs investigation training facility and a portion of ARM’s Sanctuary Division. in 2017, 5 acres will be designated as an undercover training facility where field investigators from ARM as well as undercover investigators from other organizations in the United States, can visit and properly train, before infiltrating factory farms and illegal slaughter farms. This space will contain milking machines and gestation crates that mimic dairy farms and slaughterhouses with the purpose of creating real-life investigative scenarios. There are two homes on site that will be used to house ARM and out-of-town investigators.
ARM is composed as 80% investigative and 20% sanctuary, with almost 250 rescued animals who have been rehabilitated from extreme cruelty operations now peacefully residing at the Sanctuary. ARM purchased this new property to create a powerful foundation for future investigations and a stronger organization as a whole. Soon ARM will be expanding the property as needed.
HORSE SLAUGHTER CASES IN 2016
Since inception, ARM has investigated 100’s case of illegal horse slaughter cases of which have led to the conviction and arrest of several notorious horse killers.
Throughout 2016, ARM has continued its undercover investigations of the Black Market Horse Meat Trade where horses are illegally and cruelly slaughtered for human consumption and several illegal horse slaughter houses were raided and arrests were made to the criminals involved.
Rafael Ramirez, an employee of Rancho Garcia was arrested in 2015 and convicted in 2016 for possessing horse meat and selling it to ARM’s undercover investigators. He is currently in prison for this crime.
ARM has been investigating cases of privately owned pet horses who have been dragged out of their barns in the middle of the night and ruthlessly butchered for their meat. ARM is currently undercover in ongoing horse slaughter cases and working to tie them to illegal slaughter farm operations in efforts to find the killer.
CONVICTIONS AND ARRESTS OF 2016
In 2016 alone, ARM’s investigations led to 20 new felony animal cruelty convictions. Additional cases are still pending in the legal system and will soon reach sentencing.
Following the Palm Beach County slaughter farm raids, five men were convicted in 2016. Jorge Garcia, owner and main operator of Rancho Garcia, was sentenced to one year in jail on April 26, 2016 on four counts of felony animal cruelty charges. Monieram Rathibhan, owner of Medina Farm, pled guilty to five counts of felony animal cruelty on August 17, 2016 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Edgar Bica, main operator of G.A Paso Fino Farm was sentenced to five months in Jail. Bica’s father, Edgar Bica Sr., was sentenced to 18 months probation on charges of felony animal cruelty and another operator of this farm, Rodobaldo Diaz, was charged with two counts of animal cruelty. All five men received strict probation terms which forbids them from possessing any farm animals or engaging in any act of slaughtering animals.
Four cruel animal killers from Operation Noche Buena (raided in 2014) have been convicted and sentenced to a total of 46 months in jail.
During 2016, all of the cases from the historically large-scale slaughter farm, Operation Coco Farm, (raided in 2015) were pled out. Owner of the farm, Gregorio SantaAna received 5 years of probation, had to pay ARM $23,000 and is forbidden from working around or owning animals again.
Those arrested from ARM’s investigations are put under severe monetary hardship and the court system treats them as seriously as they would a drug offense or narcotic case. When these people are prosecuted, they don’t just go to jail, their properties, bank accounts, cars and animals are all seized.
The owner and main operator of Operation Gaff-hook was also convicted of felony animal cruelty and received jail time in 2016, his illegal slaughter farm has been closed forever.
MEDIA AND EDUCATION
Throughout 2016, ARM’s investigations and successes continued to stand out in the forefront of mainstream media being highlighted in hundreds of local, national and international media outlets. It is important to expose the work of ARM using the media in order to thoroughly educate the public as well as law enforcement, judges and prosecutors on the heinous crimes being conducted to animals in their neighborhoods, on a regular basis.
ARM has also aimed to educate the public by developing an exciting new television series called Hunting Evil which will help to expose the reality of ARMs grueling operations. This will be an unedited and unscripted tv show that will dive deep into the horrific underground operations of which ARM investigates. The trailer for this show can be seen on ARM’s website.
As part of ARM’s educational programs, ARM investigators attended and sponsored the Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, where an informative booth was set up and ARM’s founder Kudo made several speeches to inform the public of ARM’s work. ARM also attended the Green Festival for the first year and spoke on an Animal Defenders Panel about the importance of living a green and adopting a humane lifestyle. Additionally, in early 2016, ARM’s Founder Kudo spoke to an audience of concerned horse owners in West Palm Beach, Florida about protecting their horses from being stolen and slaughtered.
RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE INVESTIGATIONS
In 2016, ARM investigated over 30 animal sacrifice and ceremonial sites. Many illegal slaughter farms knowingly sell animals to buyers who practice Santeria or black magic. The wild, farm and domestic animals are then found by ARM investigators after they have been tortured and sacrificed to “gods”. Ceremonial and sacrificial sites include parks, along train tracks, in and under trees and shrubbery and along water shore lines.One of ARM’s main focuses is to combat cruel animal sacrifice operations. Undercover investigations and raids of the operations selling and killing animals for sacrificial purposes will continue to be an eminent target of ARM’s investigations, in order to lessen and eventually cease the cruel ritualistic practices.
BEST CHARITY OF 2015
After making National Headlines from ARM’s first raid of the year, titled Coco Farm, and followed by the history making three consecutive raids of Loxahatchee, ARM was honored by the Miami New Times of Miami as BEST CHARITY OF 2015. Read more here.
OPERATION GAFF HOOK- RAID & ANIMAL RESCUE (FL)
Following the Loxahatchee Raids (Florida), ARM executed it’s fifth raid and animal rescue of an illegal slaughter farm titled ‘Operation Gaff Hook’. The name of the operation followed the first time that ARM undercover operatives had witnessed the use of giant fishing ‘Gaff’ hooks which played a major role in torturing and killing thousands of animals at this business. Upon the day of the raid, State Attorney’s and the Florida Wildlife Commission confiscated evidence of major criminal rings of wildlife trading and killing.. These cases will lead to serious penalties and are currently pending .
OPERATION LOXAHATCHEE: GARCIA FARM
As the third targeted property struck by Palm Beach County officials, SWAT, law enforcement agencies and ARM, Rancho Garcia’s illegal animal slaughter business was brought down forever on October 13th, 2015, simultaneously with the Medina Farm and G.A Paso Fino Farm raids.
Over the course of a 5 month period, ARM investigators conducted numerous undercover operations inside of the illegal slaughter farm known as Rancho Garcia, and on each occasion, documented audio and video evidence of extremely violent illegal acts of animal cruelty and illegal animal slaughter on site.
The property and the animal slaughter business, “Rancho Garcia”, owned by Jorge Garcia, has the reputation of being an avid animal killer including the illegal slaughter (and sales) of horses meat for human consumption, and has done so for several decades.
Horse meat was given to ARM’s undercover investigators, by Rafael and Garcia on multiple occasions. Garcia also expressed an established knowledge of horse meat and even explained to investigators how to properly marinate and cook the horse meat. Garcia is a prominent horse killer and well known supplier of horse meat in the Loxahatchee and surrounding areas, and has ties to other farms in the Miami area who slaughter horses as well. The selling, butchering, storage and even knowledge of selling horses for human consumption is a third degree felony charge, one that was co written by ARM itself. Click here to read about The Good Horse Slaughter ACT of 2010.
The animals on this property lived in deplorable structures and improper shelter. ARM investigators had never seen these animals fed or having food nor provided with clean water. The only food source they have available are intestines, blood and carcasses of newly slaughtered animals. Pigs have even been documented by ARM to be eating off the carcasses of hanging butchered animals, swarmed with flies and are awaiting customer sales.
The property is extremely unsanitary as toxic waste, trash, animal remains, piles of entrails and bones of recently slaughtered animals, cover the entire grounds of Rancho Garcia, including the slaughter and packaging area. This was a major violation of multiple health and safety compliance codes.
Streams of blood from slaughtered animals flowed into drains, which have been seriously potential hazards for contaminating the county’s water supply.
Animals kept on site were either slaughtered and sold for human consumption, sold for use in santeria and black magic rituals, or used for animal fighting purposes. Garcia also deals and operates a backyard, primitive puppy mill where dogs are locked in small cages with no water or food and left to sit in their own excrements. Garcia had also stated to ARM investigators in the past that he dumps large amounts of dogs into the Okeechobee area.
During all of the undercover investigations, ARM personnel had captured footage of Garcia and his employee Rafael, brutally abusing, torturing and slaughtering animals for customers purchasing them for human consumption.
Pigs were shot with a small 22 caliber rifle then stabbed in the heart with a foot long extremely dull blade, while the animals were still alive and breathing. Pigs were propelled through the air then dragged to the butcher area, where they convulsed in agony and left to bleed out for several minutes before being boiled in hot water tubs, at times while still alive.
ARM investigators also captured shocking undercover footage of the butchers who would shoot the ducks from a far distances, barely stunning them. They would then pin the animals down by stepping on its head, wings or body, crushing their bones while they struggled to free themselves until the butchers would finally slit the birds throat. The butchers would then either kick the duck into a steam of blood, forcing the bird to drown in its own and other animal’s blood. At other times ARM undercover investigators documented the butchers shoving the birds into funnel like structures, where they would be trapped hanging upside down, exposing only its head, leaving them to bleed out and die, often taking it 20-30 minutes to die. The butchers also would use the ‘death trap coffin-like cylinders’ to urinate into, demonstrating not only filthy habits but a complete disregard to the animals even as they were dying.
In addition to the above atrocities, Garcia was captured on tape stating to ARM investigators that he eats domestic cat meat, and explains the process in which the cat is killed, what part he eats and how he eats it.
Garcia and his guilty offenders are facing countless charges not only on severe felony charges relating to animal cruelty but compliance infractions, violations, operating and selling of un-inspected and unadulterated meat as well as multiple felony charges to be updated in the near future.
OPERATION LOXAHATCHEE: PASO FINO FARM
On July 4th ARM began short range surveillance on a property suspected of torturing and slaughtering animals for the purpose of selling their meat to the public.
Located just minutes outside of Wellington, one of Florida’s most prestigious equestrian towns, the illegal animal slaughter farm (titled as G.A Paso Fino Farms by ARM investigators) was quickly infiltrated by undercover investigators who posed as customers and spent several months witnessing, documenting and exposing the heinous crimes that were being committed on the property, owned by Orlando Guzman.
In addition to the slaughter operation, Guzman had also been operating a Paso Fino breeding and training business. However during ARM’s undercover buys, it was revealed that the horses were also falling victim to being slaughtered and sold for human consumption. Paso Fino farm employees, Edgar Snr Bicca, Edgar Jnr. Bicca and another ‘John Doe’ employee slaughtered and sold horse meat, an action considered to be a third degree felony in the state of Florida. The duo were not only selling horse meat locally but spread into the underground market of the greater Miami area.
Aside the illegal and inhumane slaughtering of animals and horses, investigators also witnessed some of the cruelest forms of brutality against the animals being kept on the farm. As occurs on many illegal slaughter farms, the methods to butcher the animals was executed in some of the most imaginable fashions. These were not limited to ARM documenting three employees ruthlessly grabbing and dragging goats to the kill area where they continued to slit the animals throat slowly with an extremely dull blade, letting them bleed out for several minutes before hoisting them upside down and skinning them whilst they were still clinically alive and not insensible to pain.
Pigs were also documented to being shot in the head with a 22 caliber rifle, one which is not considered to be a humane or instantaneous death for the pig. This was often followed several minutes later with having their throats slit by foot long dull blades and being bled out, thrashing in agony and enduring prolonged and painful deaths, often times being drowned to death whilst still alive. Employees also bragged about how they killed Armadillos by throwing them directly into boiling water without even being stunned first.
The owner and employees of G.A Paso Fino Farm have a reputation in Palm Beach County as not only being butchers but also as being suppliers of horse meat for both human consumption as a delicacy and to serve the purpose of medicinal purposes and even to treat sexual performance in men.
The state of the animals conditions upon the G.A Paso Fino farm are without a doubt some of the most deplorable conditions. Animals are deprived of water, feed and medical treatment and many of the animals are not only living in extreme filth but are also forced to feed off one another.
All of these crimes against animals and atrocities were documented and collected throughout ARM’s investigations were documented and presented to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, as well as State and Federal enforcement agencies, USDA, State and Federal environmental agencies and PBC animal services department. Due to ARM’s investigations and the collaboration with the above agencies, G.A Paso Fino Farms was raided at daybreak on October 13th, 2015.
This also included simultaneous raids on two other properties (Garcia Farm and Medina Farm), just moments away from Paso Fino’s location, spurring the second largest task force animal cruelty rescue and strike in the United States.
Updates on this investigation will follow.
OPERATION LOXAHATCHEE: MEDINA FARM
As a part of the three illegal slaughter farms that were struck by ARM, State and Federal agencies on October 13th, 2015, ARM investigators began its initial phase of conducting undercover investigations on a property known as Medina Farm. This was a part of the simultaneous raids on Gacia Farm and G.A Paso Fino Farms that has since been recognized as the largest extreme animal cruelty raid in US history.
Medina Farm and it’s animal abusers, were arrested for the illegal selling of animals for both human consumption and for ritualistic sacrificial ceremonies, all with no licenses, permits or humane slaughter act protocols in place. The court case prosecutions are currently pending and will be updated as the case evolves.
OPERATION COCO FARM: RAID AND ANIMAL RESCUE
Over a six month time period, ARM investigators went deep undercover into what later unveiled as one of the most violent animal slaughter and sacrifice trading operations to date. For over 25 years, Coco Farms had been butchering and trading an average of 300 animals a day for human consumption as well as to supply to a high demand of animal sacrifice rituals. It was also uncovered that Coco Farms had been supplying animals regularly to local Chinese and Cuban restaurants.
There were hundreds of illegal infractions as well as a long list of criminal felony charges of animal cruelty. Four of the worst animal abusers and killers were arrested and are now in the process of their prosecution, on home arrest and have been incarcerated since the March raid. They will all be each facing harsh and lengthy sentences due to ARM’s concrete evidence.
The Coco Farm investigation and raid has been considered to be the largest tactical strike force for animal cruelty in US history. Close to 10,000 animals were recovered in this raid.
DAVIE PETTING ZOO RAID
In June of 2015, ARM received a tip of severe neglect upon a petting zoo in Miami, Florida. After an undercover investigation, it resulted in the seizure of almost 30 malnourished and diseased animals including four miniature ponies who were senior in age and were being used daily for parties.
The Animals now live safely on ARM’s Sanctuary after receiving months of round the clock care. The court hearing for the animal abuser is pending.
NEPAL INVESTIGATIONS OF ANIMAL SACRIFICE AND ABUSE
Launched from it’s investigation of Nepal’s Gadhamai Festival in 2014 (the worlds largest animal sacrifice festival), ARM came to the realization of a desperate need to expose the extreme degree of animal abuse, disregard and torture as well as a need to bring about awareness and change for protective laws where none currently exist.
To date, ARM has uncovered multiple investigations in Nepal including the renown, Gadhamai, Makar Sakranti, Dashain and Kohkana festivals as well as the abuse of cart horses.
MAKAR SANKRANTI - NEPAL
In January of 2015 ARM returned to Nepal to document the sister festival of the Gadhimai Festival, the world’s largest animal sacrifice festival, which ARM infiltrated months prior. ARM was the only animal defense organization of the United States who was undercover at Makar Sakranti.
ARM is working towards educating the world of animal abuse and cruelty in a lawless country where no animal protection laws currently exist. With campaigns such as these, along with working with government agencies and agencies, ARM aims to dramatically improve and instill conditions and legislature for animals in Nepal.
KHOKANA FESTIVAL - NEPAL
In August of 2015, ARM conducted undercover investigations of a 900 year old tradition outside of Nepal’s bustling capital of Kathmandu. It’s raw footage of the annual festival, revealed the brutality inflicted upon a singled out goat who is tackled, drowned, ripped apart alive and thrown around until it’s drawn out death by selected members of the small village where the festival is held. Hundreds of animals were sacrificed during the weekend celebrations of this festival.
ARM was the only United States animal defense organization to capture the footage and expose to the world the brutalities being conducted. This is a part of ARM’s campaigns in Nepal to improve and instill animal protection laws and standards.
DASHAIN FESTIVAL - NEPAL
ARM endured a gruesome fifteen day festival in Nepal, known as the Dashain Festival, where thousands of animals were beheaded and sacrificed for religious ceremonies. The Animal Recovery Mission documented Dashain as a part of it’s continuing efforts to install awareness and education amongst the people of Nepal, the government and the rest of the world to aid in implementing animal protection laws within the country, as well as alternative offerings to the gods and traditions in Nepalese culture that do not result in the mass bloodshed slaughters that have been occurring for centuries now.
INDIA’S ELEPHANT TOURISIM TRADE ABUSE
In November of 2015, ARM entered undercover into India to two locations, on an 8 day operation. ARM documented the largest and most inhumane animal fair in Asia as well exposed a major city in India who’s surging tourism demand has led to an alarming incline of abuse and cruelty towards elephants, used for tourist rides.
Both operations address not only the extreme cruelty of animals but to an underground market of wildlife trading. An awareness campaign will be launched in early 2016.
SONEPUR MELA ANIMAL MARKET EXPOSED! - INDIA
In the last quarter of 2015, ARM went undercover to capture footage of the largest ‘cattle’ fair in India. Although it’s name suggest the fair is to trade cattle, it is much more extreme and is guilty of animal cruelty, deprivation and abuse of an abundant number of species, including endangered wildlife. Elephants are also disguised at the fair as entertainment but are traded for the elephant tourism industry. ARM’s undercover footage has exposed animal abuse and infractions against implemented laws in India.
HALTED THE FOREST SERVICE PLANS TO ROUNDUP THE SALT RIVER WILD HORSE HERD IN ARIZONA
Part of ARM’s conservation division is working to preserve and protecting wildlife, in particular the wild horses of America who are fast becoming a dying breed.
In July the Forest Services of the Tonto National Park in Arizona, put forth immediate plans to round up one of the herds that ARM (as a part of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group) have been overseeing. After lengthy and intense public campaigns, a film festival and trips to Washington DC to meet with all of the involved politicians, the round up was cancelled.
ARM and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group are now putting plans into place to execute humane management proposals and community safety programs, such as implementing reduced speed limits surrounding the horses roaming areas and safety signs in the efforts for a peaceful co existence between humans and horses.
This program is hopeful to set the standard for other wild horses management groups throughout the USA to protect the remaining few mustangs from disappearing into the history books.
HORSE SLAUGHTER CASES IN 2015
During 2015, ARM has been embedded deep underground and is close to exposing an intricate network of black market horse meat killers and suppliers who have been slaughtering and selling horse meat on the black market for human consumption.
Since ARM’s inception, it has investigated well over 100 case of illegal horses slaughter and has led to the conviction and arrest of several horse killers. In 2015, 29 cases of horse slaughter were investigated.
ANIMAL SACRIFICE CASES IN 2015
Since ARM entered into Nepal to expose the Gadhamai Festival in late 2014, it’s international investigations have increased dramatically. In Nepal, ARM investigators have exposed several large festivals such as Dashain, Kohkana and the Makar Sakranti festivals.
ARM’s goals is to educate the world on the need to implement animal protection laws in Nepal and to put an end to the countless animal sacrifice festivals and rituals that are conducted every day.
Domestically in the USA, ARM is continuing animal sacrifice operations on a regular basis and in 2015 investigated 35 cases of animal sacrifice. This year the organization’s work was featured by Professor Tony Kail in his book, ‘Narco Cults – understanding the use of Afro-Carribean and Mexican Religious Cultures in the drug wars’. ARM’s investigations have also been referenced in Mark Hawthorne’s ‘Bleating Hearts – the hidden work of animal suffering’.
ARM is continuing it’s cases, with the aid of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in bringing the subject matter of the legality of animal sacrifice to the Supreme Court in the hopes of making these terms illegal. Multiple arrests have been made from the mistreatment of animals prior to the ceremonies taking place.
CONVICTIONS AND ARRESTS FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY
In 2015, ARM’s investigations have led to the convictions and arrest of 21 of the most extreme. brutal and cold heartened animal killers and operators. Their cases are currently pending the courts of law. With final prosecutions, many of these cases stand to be history making sentences regarding animal cruelty and organized crimes.
MEDIA COVERAGE IN 2015
ARM has been featured and executed almost 250 Local, National and International major network news stories to date. 2015 was one of the most highlighted years for press due to the leap in ARM’s investigations worldwide.
Media outlets include CNN, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, BBC, Univision, Fusion, VICE, ESPN, Telemundo and FOX news, to name a few. Print related articles included; The Miami Herald, The NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times Tribune, VICE, Horse and Hound, Chronical of the Horse, The Horse Magazine, Thoroughbred Times and two interviews on the Sea Shepard/Barbi Twins La Talk Radio.
ARM SANCTUARY DIVISION CREATION
In November of 2015, ARM created it’s Sanctuary division for the abused animals of the illegal animal slaughter, sacrifice and torture farms in which it investigates. Currently ARM cares for over 250 animals, many who were rescued at the October Loxahatchee (Florida) raids.
ARM CONSERVATION DIVISION LAUNCHING
In 2015, ARM officially launched it’s Conservation Division which it aims to fully expand in 2016. Situated on one of the worlds most fragile ecosystems, the Florida Everglades, ARM has identified abuse not only to the land itself but to the animals, wildlife and marine life which inhibits it. An intensive conservation program is currently underway that will include the rehabilitation of wildlife.
ARM FOUNDER HONOURED FOR HIS ANIMAL ADVOCACY
ARM’s Founder, Richard ‘Kudo’ Couto, was honored as being “the LeBron James of animal rights activists.” by the Broward New Times in their article featuring a list of South Floridians who deserve extra recognition for their accomplishments within the community. Read about it “>here.
EQUUS FILM FESTIVAL: ARM’s FIRST DOCUMENTARY
During the call to action campaign which ARM and Simone Netherlands, of The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, carried out to stop the round up of one of the most iconic mustangs of America, the EQUUS film festival caught the attention of the urgent plight, and invited ARM to exhibit it’s first documentary.
Hosted in New York, the 30 minute documentary, a first of it’s kind, was met with a great applaud and is in the hopes to continue to the Sundance festival in 2016. Titled, ‘Saving the Salt River Wild Horses’, the film contributed to an overwhelming public opinion and support that aided in the Forest Service withdrawing it’s intent to remove the horses.
The film will be released in 2016 to the public.
PETS TRUST AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ANIMAL ADVOCACY
ARM was selected by The Pet’s Trust Miami and it’s community, as one of the ‘Lucky 13’ recognized animal advocates of Miami. The evening was hosted by Famous animal advocate, Joanna Krupa where awards were given out to each of the honorees, including ARM.
In November, ARM’s Founder and a senior investigator travelled to Nepal to document the world’s largest animal sacrifice festival – The Gadhimai Festival. ARM was the first organization of it’s kind to enter alone to discover the truths of the event.During it’s ten day investigation, ARM ventured beyond the festival to the border of India and Nepal where Gadhimai devotees were attempting to sneak their animals into Nepal in their hopes to make offerings to the gods. ARM was the first organization to have interviewed committee members and locals of the global movement who have been frowning upon the inhumane sacrificing of around 400,000 animals during the festival.
ARM will continue it’s investigations and efforts abroad to raise awareness so that tradition is not repeated in 2019. Detailed reports will be released in the near future.
SAN BERNABE MERCADO OPERATION- MEXICO
In 2011, ARM collaborated with several leading animal welfare organizations, on a global campaign exposing the world’s most inhumane animal auction known as San Bernabe Mercado, located 90 miles outside of Mexico City.
In 2014, ARM returned to conduct in-depth undercover investigations at the market and is currently compiling reports and footage which it will soon be presenting to government officials and agencies. The objective of these meetings will be to enhance and enforce regulations and human treatment of the thousands of animals that are sold through the weekly auction.
In addition, ARM has merged forces with Mexico’s leading animal advocacy organization, A.P.A.S.D.E.M, and is working on several other extreme animal cruelty operations throughout Mexico, such as animal sacrifice trading and bull fighting.
OPERATION NOCHE BUENA ARREST- STATE WIDE MAN HUNT FOR YURIANNE HERVIS GONZALEZ ‘ELVIN’.
On August 5th, 2014, and following a state wide manhunt for ‘America’s most wanted animal killer’, Yurianne Hervis Gonzalez (formerly known to ARM as ‘Elvin’) was arrested by the Organized Crime Unit of the Miami-Dade Police Department. After months of averting his capture, ARM persevered by broadcasting a $10,000 reward across major state and national media outlets. Within days, leads to Gonzalez’s identity and whereabout flooded the ARM headquarters hotline.
ARM investigators immediately pursued the potential leads and were able to confirm Gonzalez’s where abouts at his underground hideout. ARM promptly contacted law enforcement agents who then executed a home raid. At the time of his arrest, Gonzalez was finalizing the sale of a stolen vehicle in a desperate attempt to fund his flee into Texas to avoid his capture.
A notorious and violent animal killer, Gonzalez possesses a long rap sheet of felony crimes including animal fighting, the killing of horses for the black market horse meat trade, grand theft auto and domestic violence. He is also suspected to be directly connected to multiple home invasions and capital murder cases.
Currently, Gonzalez faces 30 counts of animal cruelty and auto theft. His bail was set at $175,000 and to date has not been posted. Gonzalez is currently being held at a Florida jail where he awaits his trial.
OPERATION NOCHE BUENA
All operatives on the Noche Buena farm were arrested, some waiting prosecution and trial, following ARM’s undercover investigations. The targeted property was successfully shut down and all of the structures were demolished to prevent future tenants rebuilding an illegal operation.
Due to a joint effort from ARM, law enforcement, the Florida State Attorney’s Office and the media, inhumane and illegal activities such as those that the operators at the Noche Buena farm have been exposed and have set the example for other offenders of similar crimes.
People have been driven out of this area and away from practicing animal sacrifice for religious purposes, and those mishandling animals prior to sacrifice have begun to treat them in a more humane manner.
In 2014, ARM succeeded in disabling an illegal animal slaughter farm which was operated by a father and daughter duo, Julio and Naomi.
The farm, located in an area titled as the C-9 Basin of un-incorporated Miami Dade County (Florida), had previously been investigated by ARM in 2010 and was struck by County, State and Federal agencies on the largest known raid (Operation Restore) in US history.
After being shut down, the duo persisted to elude enforcement agencies and opened up another illegal slaughter farm in the C9 Basin (Florida). Un be-known to them, ARM investigators had been monitoring this duo of criminal activity and after collecting sufficient evidence, the documentation was handed over to the USDA undercover division and federal charges were made against the farm owners (Julio and Naomi) and their operation was shut down and demolished once again in the first quarter of 2014.
HORSE SLAUGHTER CASES
During 2014, ARM investigated 98 cases of horses (both pet and registered breeds) that were slaughtered and sold on the black market for human consumption.
Two of the worst cases which ARM investigated, involving pet horses that were slaughtered outside of their stables, are coming to a close after ARM has successfully identified the criminals. Arrests and convictions utilizing ARM’s Good Horse Slaughter ACT will be executed in 2015. These convictions will entail third degree felony charges and prison sentences.
ANIMAL SACRIFICE CASES IN 2014
To date, ARM has responded to over 40 State and National cases of animal sacrifice for religious purposes. In 2014, and after a rapid increase of animal sacrifice cases started to occur, ARM expanded it’s scope to an International level, which has since resulted in two ‘one of a kind’ investigations within Nepal. It was here in late October, that ARM became the first US based animal investigative organization to succeed in infiltrating undercover into the prohibited slaughter field at the worlds largest animal sacrifice festival of Gadhimai. Posing as reporters, ARM documented almost 400,000 animals being brutally decapitated and sacrificed for religious purposes. It is also continuing it’s investigations in Nepal of the daily festivals and ceremonies in a country that is currently lawless in animal protection.
In 2014, ARM also initiated the thriving underground trading markets of animals for religious sacrifice in international public markets such as the Sonora Market in Mexico City. Entering as customers, ARM operatives were able to capture footage of a variety of domestic, farm and endangered wildlife that are filtered through these weekly markets at alarming numbers.
Domestically in the USA in 2014, ARM also investigated a disturbing case of a 60 lb pet dog who was violently beheaded in a sacrifice ceremony. This particular case occurred in the backyard of residential area of Miami-Dade County (Florida). The tortured dogs screams echoed throughout the neighborhood and an even more disturbing discovery, was the dogs head was which was displayed for several days in a ‘prenda’ pot in plain view of the areas residents.
Not being an isolated incident, ARM’s investigations has exposed a consistent discovery of findings where the jaws of animals (mainly domestic dogs) have been sawn in half. This is a practice that has been revealed to be conducted whilst the animal is still alive.
In 2014, ARM worked tirelessly to expose these animal sacrifice cases to the public following the dire issues of privately owned family pets, (including dogs and cats), that were being stolen from their homes and subjected to these practices. The most prevalent religious ceremonies have since been identified by ARM as being those of Santeria and Palo Mayombe practices. Not only restricted to domestic and farm animals, ARM is currently investigating cases where endangered animals, such as the African Lions, are being sacrificed.
ARM is currently building a case, with the aid of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which will be bringing the subject matter of the legality of animal sacrifice to the Supreme Court in the hopes of making these terms illegal. Multiple arrests have been made from the mistreatment of animals prior to the ceremonies taking place.
CONVICTIONS AND ARRESTS FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY
On February 11th, 2014, Jesus Navarro faced his sentencing at the Miami-Dade courthouse for animal cruelty charges following his arrest at the VIP Animal raid in June of 2013. Navarro, a convicted horse killer and Felon, pled guilty and was served one year in prison with four years probation which strictly outlined that if Navarro is to ever be in contact with an animal, sell, process, trade or posses any weapons, then he is to be automatically sentenced to five years in prison.
On March 26th, 2014 and following ARM’s extensive undercover investigation of an illegal “House of Horrors” Slaughterhouse located in Miami (FL), ringleader Raul “Freaky” Fernandez was arrested by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and law enforcemnet. Already on probation for drug dealing, Fernandez faced court on the day after his arrest. The honourable judge sentenced Fernandez to a probation violation with no bond and $175,000- $25,000 for each count of animal cruelty. The judge also insisted that Fernandez was to NEVER again step foot on the property where the extreme animal abuse crimes took place. His final sentencing is still pending. Several other animal cruelty offenders, who were under the direction of Fernandez, are awaitng arrests and trial.
In April 2014 , the second offender of ARM’s undercover investigation titled Operation Noche Buena, Yoinsley ‘Pipe’ Garcia, was arrested in his home. Pipe was ‘Freaky’s’ right hand man of the illegal house of horrors. Currently he is under house arrest after his bond was set for $35,500, and is set for trial where he is facing 7 counts of animal cruelty charges.
On August 5th, 2014 and following a state wide manhunt for ‘America’s most wanted animal killer’, Yurianne Hervis Gonzalez, formerly known to ARM as ‘Elvin’, was arrested by the Miami Dade Police Department and the Miami Dade State Attorney’s office. At the time of his arrest, Gonzalez ‘Elvin’, was attempting to sell a stolen vehicle to fund his flee to Texas to avoid being captured.
A notorious and violent animal killer, Gonzalez ‘Elvin’ was also unveiled as having a long rap sheet including animal fighting, the killing of horses for the black market horse meat trade, grand theft auto and domestic violence.
Currently, Gonzalez faces 30 counts of animal cruelty alone and his bail stands at $75,000 due to his flight risk.
MEDIA COVERAGE IN 2014
ARM has been featured and executed over 120 Local, National and International major network news stories in 2014. These media stories have highlighted ARM’s investigations into illegal horse slaughter, illegal slaughter farms, animal fighting rings, animal sacrifice for religious purposes and the demise of US wild horses and burros.
Media outlets include CNN, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, BBC, Univision, Fusion, ESPN, Telemundo and FOX news, to name a few. Over 200 news stories which highlighted ARM’s work were also featured in print articles across the globe. Print related articles included; The Miami Herald, The NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times Tribune, Horse and Hound, The Horse Magazine, Thoroughbred Times and two interviews on the Sea Shepard/Barbi Twins La Talk Radio.
Stemming, in part by ARM’s investigations, media relations and political campaigns, Marco’s Law was established in South West Ranches of Florida making horse slaughter a second degree felony. This law followed the backyard slaughter of an ex-racehorse named Marco, who was slaughtered in his owners backyard. This is the strongest animal cruelty law in the United States.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
In 2013, ARM investigated 68 cases in total of both pet horses and tattooed, registered thoroughbreds who were brutally butchered for their meat and sold on the black market. The remains of their bodies were discarded on the back roads of desolated, rural areas of Miami (FL). A high percentage of these discoveries were part of a breaking investigation which ARM will soon be concluding and exposing.
SANTERIA, PALO MAYOMBE AND RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE
ARM has continued and increased it’s indepth investigations into the inhumane handling, mistreatment neglect and abuse upon animals who are subjected to religious sacrifice ceremonies.
In 2013, ARM investigated countless cases of extremly inhumane sacrifices. In it’s efforts to address the standards and rights of animals intended for sacrifice, ARM in addition launched it’s “Operation Sector 9” investigation. What followed was the successful raid and large animal rescue of over 750 animals. Countless animals were also spared any future abuse as these properties were exposed and disabled.
Serious convictions and charges are continuing in the courts of law including offences upon the dangerous social delinquents who were involved in VIP and Proenza Farm’s operations. Prior arrests and charges upon these felons included; Paedophilia, money laundering as well as drug and armed weapons dealings to name a few.
VIP ANIMAL SALES RAID
The June raid and animal rescue upon VIP Animal Sales was the first stage of a two part operation, following ARM’s extensive eight month investigation into the brutal underground trading of animals for the purpose of religious sacrifice. These horrific crimes against animals are some of the first to be revealed where animals are not only deprived of their basic rights of food, water, shelter or medicine, but of the respect and treatment that they are ‘supposed’ to receive as offerings in Santeria and Palo Mayombe ceremonies.
The operators and offenders of VIP Animal Sales were also documented for torturous acts in butchering animals, often times alive, for human consumption.
Due to ARM’s investigations and it’s combined efforts with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office and local law enforcement agencies, four men were arrested including a convicted horse killer and known pedophile. Almost 100 animals were rescued and placed in sanctuaries throughout Florida on the day of the raid.
VIP Animal Sales has now been closed for business and the four criminal offenders await serious multiple felony and criminal charges in the coming months.
PROENZA FARM RAID
The second sting operation upon Proenza Farm was undertaken in the same week as VIP Animal Sales, following ARM’s same eight month investigation into animals being traded for animal sacrifice as well as animals slaughtered in un-licensed backyard establishments for human consumption.
Proenza Farm was operated by a father and son team who are both awaiting trial with an extensive list of crimes and violations, including animal cruelty resulting in death. This ‘criminal duo’ are guilty of some of the most inhumane acts against animals including the mistreatment of animals traded for religious sacrifice ceremonies. Goats were documented as being thrown to the ground, bound tightly with duct tape or rope and thrown into unventilated trunks of cars for transportation. Being that these acts are being conducted in South Florida where temperatures in car trunks can reach over 110 degrees, these crimes are considered serious criminal animal cruelty charges.
As a result of the Proenza Farm Raid, and the combined efforts of the Miami Dade State Attorney’s office and Law enforcement agencies, ARM succeeded in recovering over 600 animals during this raid.
Criminal proceedings and sentences will be executed in the following months for the offenders of Proenza Farm. The rescued animals are now living on protected sanctuaries across America.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
In January, whilst on a routine check up of the C9 Basin, ARM investigators discovered four severely emaciated horses believed to be intended for illegal slaughter. Working in alliance with the South Florida SPCA and TRAC, ARM seized the four horses who traced back to former registered racehorses, two of which were high stakes winners and one, Mc Murphy, who ascends from a line of royalty to Bold Ruler, one of US greatest racehorses.
ARM investigated and found former managers of the horses to be guilty of animal abuse who regularly sold their horses for slaughter. ARM, TRAC, TROT, Tampa Bay Downs, Calder Racecourse and Parimutuel Wagering (PMW) are combing efforts in the investigation. All horses are now healthy, happy and up for adoption. Refer to ARM’s adoption.
PUBLIC AWARENESS WITH NAT GEO WILD TV SHOW
In May, ARM was highlighted on the National Geographic Wild network with Henry Rollins. ARM addressed Horse meat consumption and the Black Market horse meat trade in South Florida. This program reached an international audience and educated millions of people of the issues that ARM combats daily.
You can view this in our Press section of our website to learn more.
TAMPA BAY ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARMS
In May of 2011, ARM was contacted by Tampa Bay residents to investigate the illegal slaughter farms and horse slaughter issue in their County. Due to the lack of enforcement by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, this lawlessness has been allowed to evolve into a thriving ‘underground’ organized crime.
ARM’s Founder took on a new identity and immersed himself in the illegal slaughter farm society. It wasn’t until trusted relationships were created that the true horrors of the killers ongoings were revealed. The animals on the farms, ranging from horses, donkeys, dogs, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, emus and other birds being starved to death, stabbed, axed, shot, clubbed and boiled alive for the purpose of human consumption.
The animal killers themselves have stated that up to 1,000 horses and countless other animals are being killed every year in the Hillsborough County.
On many of the farms, children as young as 4 years old were either present during killings or forced by their parents to take part in the torture. The farms are unsanitary and are violating; food safety, environmental, building &zoning codes, IRS and child labor laws, to name a few.
After a year long investigation by ARM, the Sheriff’s Department and the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s were made aware of the crimes with concrete audio and video evidence, which was responded with little or no enforcement. ARM then teamed up with The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and due to the lack of action taken, is suing the killers directly.
In November of 2012, Jorge Ortega was arrested for killing and selling horse meat to an ARM investigator and USDA agent. This was the first arrest to be made under The Good Horse Slaughter Act of 2010. ARM is still waiting for up to 12 additional felony arrests resulting from ARM’s investigations.
ARM will continue our efforts until enforcement in Hillsborough, Florida, recognizes the extreme animal cruelty issue and responsibility in their county.
AREA 97 ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARMS INVESTIGATIONS
Initiating investigations in 2010, ARM’s Founder, Richard ‘Kudo’ Couto, went deep undercover in this area of Hialeah, FL for two years in an effort to expose the extreme degree of animal cruelty which was being conducted on a daily basis. ARM targeted eighteen (18) illegal animal slaughter, animal fighting and animal sacrifice farms which have also been tied to the black market horse meat trade, environmental and code compliance crimes. The farms have been active for over the last 50 years with little to no law enforcement until ARM.
An estimated 300 animals per day were being illegally slaughtered with sledgehammers, knives, machetes, guns, strangled and at time boiled alive. In conjunction with the Miami-Dade State Attorneys office, ARM has subsequently shut down operations on all but three farms, which will be closed down in the near future.
ILLEGAL STALLION FIGHTING & HORSE SLAUGHTER, TIJUANA, MEXICO
In July, ARM Investigators initiated the first steps on infiltrating the underground world of fighting stallions in Mexico. Preliminary investigation traced leads from several southern California racetracks where employees of the tracks have been involved in transporting ex thoroughbred racehorses over the border into greater Tijuana, Mexico and selling them to the underground horse meat trade and backyard butcher shops. Before going to slaughter, many of the registered racehorse stallions are being paired up against one another and put into a ring, similar to dog and cock fighting. Forced into bloody battles, the stallions fight to the death whilst spectators bet money on which stallion will make the kill. ARM has also identified a backyard horse slaughter area where US racehorses are being transported directly from California based racetracks. In 2012-2013, ARM will be entering Mexico and will expose the soaring profit industry of stallion fighting and horse slaughter.
SALT RIVER WATER HORSES (ARIZONA)
In August 2012, ARM and Respect 4 Horses combined forces to duplicate the successful Walker Lake Herd campaign in a desperate fight to save the threatened Salt River Water Horses of Arizona. In the coming months, the US Forest service has plans to round up an estimated 80-100 wild horses who grace the banks of the Mesa River, 15 minutes from the bustling city of Phoenix. The Salt River Herd is the only herd of wild horses to be titled as ‘water horses’. Investigations are currently underway.
ANGEL BUSUROT ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARM
Cold blooded animal killer and ringleader Angel Busorot, along with Gelio Hernandez, owned and operated the property, Finca El Novilloin located in NW Miami-Dade, Florida. In 2010 ARM investigators targeted and closed down operations for illegally slaughtering animals and selling un-inspected USDA meat for human consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) became aware that they were once again re open for business. At the USDA‘s request, a joint sting operation was conducted with ARM, the USDA and law enforcement to obtain the necessary evidence and footage. Both Busurot and Hernandez were arrested in August and are both currently awaiting trail. If the two are convicted, as expected, they will be facing an estimated combined sentence of 15 years imprisonment for butchering animals alive and selling un inspected meat to the general public.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
ARM has investigated 45 Illegal horse slaughter cases throughout the State of Florida in 2012 and is continuing its efforts to break down the Black Market horse meat trade industry and its connections. ARM has publicly addressed that the illegal horse slaughter industry, and its uncontrolled operating thoughout the State of Florida is a result of little or no law enforcement from authorities. ARM estimates that over 20,000 horses a year are being illegally slaughtered and their meat entering this trade.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD
ARM’s Founder was awarded the “Citizen Of The Year Award” in Miami Dade, Florida. This was honored to him for his dedication to animal welfare and for fighting extreme animal cruelty in the Miami Dade County.
CIUDAD DE JUAREZ, MEXICO
In the spring of 2011, ARM entered into Juarez, Mexico and went deep undercover to document the operations of one of the world’s most inhumane slaughter houses. The mission involved a week long sting where ARM documented the layout, daily functions and necessary details required for further investigations. ARM is scheduled to return later in 2012 and 2013 to resume investigations and expose the extremely cruel methods used to kill the slaughter bound horses. This was the first time in seven years that an organization investigated the municipal slaughter house.
EPIC’ WILD MUSTANG RESCUE
In June, ARM investigators discovered a BLM branded wild mustang upon an illegal slaughter farm whilst undercover in Hillsborough County of Tampa Bay, Fl. Without compromising the investigators character with the horse killers, ARM devised a plan and bought Epic for $450 under the pretense of using the mustang as a riding horse. Days after the rescue, Epic was diagnosed as being pregnant. Epic and unborn foal were promptly transported The Marty Wolfson Rehabilitation Center ( owner of the last Triple Crown Winner “Affirmed”) then transferred to The Wild Horse Rescue Centre in Mims (FL) in preparations for the pregnancy. ARM’s intervention spared two lives and a healthy, leggy foal was born in March of 2012.
In November of 2012, Epic, her colt and Miss Mara (another rescued mustang) were transported to “Return to Freedoom”, a Wild Horse Sanctuary located in Santa Barbara, CA. These three mustangs will live out their remaining days,untouched by humans, in the rolling hills of the exclusive Santa Barbara wine country.
SAN BERNABE MERCADO, MEXICO
In June, ARM collaborated in one of the largest joint campaigns of animal welfare groups in the USA and Mexico to shed light on one of the world’s most deplorable animal auctions – The San Bernabe Auction on the outskirts of Mexico City. The campaign included The Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), Animals Angels, The Equine Welfare Alliance, The Animal Law Coalition, The Anti Fur Society and Mexico’s leading animal advocates, ADASDEM.
Together these organizations worked to release video documentation and footage to the Governor and next potential President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. ARM’s heavy involvement in the campaign has formed into our own investigation to urge the government to enforce existing Federal Laws for the welfare of animals at the San Bernabe Market and put an end to the cruelty that exists there.
ARM Investigations work with the Florida State legislature aided in the passage of a law making bestiality a crime in the State. The law was signed into effect on October 1, 2011 making Florida the 37th U.S. State to criminalize bestiality. ARM has gone deep undercover into one of the darkest of world’s and for the first time, has exposed the extreme abuse and divisions of this industry. ARM will continue our work in abolishing this practice as our investigation continues. The United States is considered to be, by many, as ‘The Bestiality tourism capital of the World’.
FOX & COYOTE PENNING GAMES
In October ARM investigators travelled to Emporia in Virginia where they conducted a four (4) day Fox and Coyote Penning event. The Poole’s Foxhound training Preserve Facility that ARM targeted, has been actively running these games for over 20 years. Investigators posed as avid hunters and documented every accent of the games, the society and of course the torturous and unfair ‘blood sport’ of Fox and Coyote Penning games. Never before has an animal welfare organization undertaken undercover investigations of these games to this extent in the United States, until ARM. Investigations are currently ongoing to phase out this sadistic ‘sport’.
ACOSTA ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARM
The November Rudy Acosta raid has become one of the most prominent and talked about cases amongst the animal world. The sting operation and raid was the largest animal rescue of 2011 in the United States and involved an extensive task force upon the request of ARM’s founder, Richard Couto. Local, state and federal law enforcement, USDA, environmental protection agencies and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office were present and responsible for aiding ARM in bringing one of America’s most dangerous animal killers and ringleaders to justice. Animals on site were butchered alive with sledgehammers, axes and at times boiled alive. Because of the raid, ARM was able to rescue over 600 animals from the imminent fate of being tortured and slaughtered alive for human consumption.The animals are now living on protected sanctuaries across America. Rudy Acosta, and his four employees, are currently awaiting trial in the courts of Florida State
SANTERIA, PALO MAYOMBE AND RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE
ARM was the first organization to publicly challenge the Santeria Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye and its high priest (and President) Oba Ernesto Pichardo, on the sacrifice of animals for religious purposes. ARM’s campaign followed one of Florida’s most prominent Santeria churches lawsuits, where in 1993 US Supreme Judges had stated that they questioned the fine line of the First Amendment protected acts allowing freedom of religion in the US, and its practices and animal cruelty.
ARM has investigated and exposed the inhumane treatment of animals while being housed, ‘packaged’, transported and killed in the name of religion. ARM has also investigated the illegal dumping of thousands of sacrificed animals in the State of Florida and are working with authorities on prosecuting offenders.
ARM also began investigating Santeria’s ‘evil twin’, Palo Mayombe, after we continued to discover decapitated dogs, cats and horses in Florida on a regular basis. Palo Mayombe is the darkest form of black magic which originated in Africa’s congo and is widely practiced in the State of Florida as well as throughout the United States of America.
In May ARM and Fox news uncovered the largest Palo Mayombe ceremonial site that has ever been documented and investigated various domestic and exotic animal remains, including a human skull, were recovered. ARM investigators collaborated with Law Enforcement, CSI, The Board of Health, Miami-Dade State Attorny’s office and the Medical Examiners office of Miami. It was later discovered that the skull was laced with Mercury and a public health advisory was released by the State of Florida to residents.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
Over the duration of 2011, ARM investigators embedded themselves with some of the worst horse killers in the world and have actively investigated 25 illegal horse slaughter cases in the state of Florida.
THE C9 BASIN
ARM’s initial large scale investigation led to the complete closure of an area in Miami, Florida known as The C9 Basin. This raid became iconic in exposing the hidden underworld society of the illegal animal slaughter farm trade that had been operating, ungoverned, over the last 50 years in South Florida. Animal fighting rings, animal sacrifice and irreversible environmental damage were also heavily associated with the farms.
Arm’s extensive undercover operations produced footage of extreme animal cruelty and countless illegal activities that could not be ignored by authorities. ARM’s Founder, Richard Kudo Couto requested an assembly of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, environmental and agriculture protection departments and the State attorney office of Miami-Dade County, which he then led on a joint task force raid. As a result of this operation, the illegal properties were raided, closed and over 600 structures were demolished. Over seventy (70) illegal slaughter, animal fighting rings and animal sacrifice farms were closed. This raid was the largest extreme animal cruelty raid in the United States and one of the largest Government operations in Florida’s history.
ARRESTS AND CONVICTIONS OF HORSE KILLERS
In January, as a result of ARM’s undercover investigations and public awareness programs, two men were arrested and sentenced to a total of nine years in prison for the brutal slaughter of two stolen pet horses (one a registered breed) and the selling of their meat, for human consumption. This was the first case of it’s kind in the State of Florida.
THE GOOD HORSE SLAUGHTER ACT
In part due to the work of ARM Investigations, legislation titled “The Good Horse Slaughter Act”, was passed in the state of Florida. This became a groundbreaking law in the United States that makes it a third degree felony for any person to buy, sell, transport, kill a horse or posses horse meat for human consumption within the state of Florida. The penalties stand as a minimum of one year in jail and a $3,500 fine. Florida Senate Representative Luis Garcia introduced this bill which went into effect on October 1, 2010.
TWIN PEAKS ROUND UP INVESTIGATION
In September, ARM formed an alliance with wild horse advocacy organization, Respect 4 horses, on a joint investigation of the BLM and the Department of the Interior’s motives for rounding up the wild mustang herds of Twin Peaks in California.
ARM and Respect 4 Horses interviewed several members of both Departments and followed the round up of this herd into a Government run holding facility. Following the operation, Richard Couto met with the heads of The Department of the Interior to challenge the necessity for the Twin Peaks Round up as being unjustifiable. The documentation and footage that ARM presented proved that the main reasons for the wild horses need to be rounded up, was for their own survival due to a lack of food and water sources. This was quickly proven to be false! ARM and Respect 4 Horses were the only organizations to conduct an intensive field investigation during the Twin Peaks round up. From our investigations, it was determined that all of the wild horse trap sites had been set up close to plentiful water sources and areas that the horses regularly visited. All herds were zeroed out of Twin Peaks.
THE WALKER LAKE HERD
ARM Investigations and Respect 4 Horses headed a campaign to save a herd of wild mustangs in Nevada, which have since been titled “The Walker Lake Herd”. The BLM had scheduled the herd to be removed (and be forever penned) in November 2010. Due to the strong campaigning of both organizations, the roundup was called off on November 3, 2010 and the herd is now safe in their natural habitat. This is the first time in United States history that a wild horse roundup has been called off by the BLM due to pressure from an outside organization. The herd is now overseen and managed by ARM.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
In the duration of 2010, ARM investigated 18 cases of horses being illegally slaughtered for their meat for human consumption in Miami-Dade County,Fl. The brutal, backyard operations of the ‘black market’ horse meat trade were exposed and highlighted through the aid of the Media in National and International news coverage, as well as with respected TV network programs including MTV’s World of Jenks, CNN Justice, Inside Edition and ESPN E:60. Before ARM’s investigations, horse meat was being illegally, yet freely traded into Florida restaurants, butcher shops and within the community. Although the black market horse meat trade continues to operate, it has been forced to become further restricted, forcing the industry to suffer and soon, diminish. ARM is the first organization in the United States to expose and investigate the underground horse meat trade.
THE HORSE RACING INDUSTRY
ARM’s investigations on the Calder Racecourse in Florida unraveled several connections between the Thoroughbred racing industry, illegal slaughter farms and the black market horse meat trade. ARM uncovered that the majority of horses entering the illegal slaughter farms in South Florida were tracing back to employees of race tracks such as trainers and pony handlers. In 2011, ARM targeted a pony handler by the name of Jorge Ortega who was responsible for a large supply of unwanted and injured racehorses being sold to the slaughter farms. As a result of ARM’s findings, Parimutuel wagering (PMW) had Ortega’s State racing license pulled and he was banned from the racing industry. ARM also worked with Churchill Down’s Calder racecourse to rewrite their code of ethics, procedures, security of equine at the track and now diligently aides in the protection of racehorses.
ARM’s presence and involvement with racecourses across Florida and the US are making an impact on the proper procedures of racehorses to deter them from ‘falling through the cracks’. This in turn has greatly impacted the extreme abuse, humane treatment and euthanasia for injured horses and promoted thoroughbred retirement programs , such as TRAC.
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS
ARM often participates in educational and public speaking programs with high schools, grammar schools and universities to educate students and raise awareness on animal cruelty and the work that our organization undertakes. ARM also consistently attends conventions and rallies as honorary guest speakers in its efforts educate and eliminate illegal and extreme acts of animal cruelty.