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.
Standing as its first investigation, ARM 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.
As a part of a collaborative effort between enforcement agencies and ARM, and as a result of ARM’s investigations, 70 illegal animal slaughter, sacrifice, and fighting properties were raided and shut down in 2010.
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.
Owned and operated by Manuel Martinez-Coto, this multi-faceted illegal ‘backyard’ business has been investigated and exposed by ARM and law enforcement on multiple occasions over the past ten years. Yet, it is currently operating as a fully functioning business. Coto not only illegally butchers animals for human consumption, but he is also a well-established horse killer with a vast underground network of customers suspected to reach nationwide.
In addition to its undercover investigations at Manuel Farm, ARM has uncovered hundreds of horse carcasses within a 1000 ft radius of Coto’s property. ARM and the Agricultural Unit of the Miami-Dade Police Department have maintained strong suspicions over the years that these remains connect to Coto’s business of killing and selling horse meat for human consumption.
In 2016, following a sting operation, Coto was arrested and charged with two felony counts of selling/buying/possession of horse meat. Although ARM co-created State legislation, making it a felony crime (The Good Horse Slaughter ACT of 2010), Coto’s served one day in jail, of a minimum 1-year sentence with 2.5-year probation. After five months, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office removed his probation period, and he reverted straight back to openly operating his lucrative illegal animal slaughter farm.
In December of 2018, ARM returned to Manuel Farm to conduct undercover investigations and capture animals inhumanely slaughtered.
While undercover, ARM investigators witnessed the animals butchered before being insensible to pain, a gross violation of The Humane Slaughter ACT.