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 also 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 largest 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 currently is 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 also 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 are directly connected 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 sentence was reduced to serving one day in jail, of a minimum 1-year sentence, with a 2.5-year probation. After five months, his probation period was removed by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, 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 captured the inhumane slaughtering of animals. While undercover, ARM investigators witnessed the animals being butchered before being insensible to pain, a gross violation of The Humane Slaughter ACT.
While undercover during this time, ARM also has obtained footage of over 15 horses held upon Manuel Farm, despite the stipulations of not being allowed to own or house any equines. Manuel Farm is also void of the proper licensing to slaughter animals and has been rejected by the USDA on many occasions due to gross sanitary violations. Coto is also in violation of selling alcohol onsite without any liquor license or permit with the state of Florida.
To date, no arrests have been made on this case. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office concluded that the footage presented to them from ARM’s December 2018 operation, was not sufficient enough to prosecute.
On May 8th, 2019, ARM revealed its findings to the public through an investigative report story.
If you would like to make your voices heard to bring justice to the animals tortured and butchered alive on Manuel Farm, you can contact the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and elected official Katherine Fernandez-Rundle at 305-547-0100. (Between 9 am-5 pm)
Click here or see below to view the entire report of ARM’s investigations upon Manuel Farm.