Operation San Bernabe

ARM first became involved with it’s investigations in June of 2011 where it’s  operatives collaborated in one of the largest joint campaigns of animal welfare groups in the USA and Mexico to shed light on the world’s most deplorable animal auctions – The San Bernabe Auction, which lies outside of Mexico City, Mexico. The campaign included Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), Animals Angels, The Equine Welfare Alliance, The Animal Law Coalition, The Anti Fur Society and Mexico’s leading animal advocates, APASDEM.

Together these organizations worked to release video documentation and footage to the Governor, and next potential President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. The purpose of the campaign was to urge the government to enforce existing Federal Laws for the welfare of animals at the San Bernabe Market.

The institutions and authorities, federal and local governments, have had full powers to inspect and monitor the auction, and therefore have had the capacity to solve this dilemma, have remained passive and sluggish before our presence. Since the International campaign was launched, ARM has continued to be a strong force and has succeeded in bringing awareness with constant petitions, emails and communications with political leaders in Mexico City.

ARM’s efforts resulted in a wide spread awareness movement, lending international pressure to the Mexican Government and forcing the hand to become active in making changes in the operating of San Bernabe, adhering to sanctioned animal welfares codes of conduct and pursuing responsibility for the misconduct and cruelty inflicted upon the countless animals that have found their way to the Auction.

As a result of ARM’s relentless efforts, we have also received positive responses from the auction proprietors. This is the first time that the San Bernabe Mercado has acknowledged the horrific and cruel conditions of the auction and are expressing a willingness to improve the codes of conduct at San Bernabe.


In October of 2014, ARM returned to Mexico City and met with APASDEM to discuss the current status of the animal auctions along with new investigations which required a collaboration with.  What followed was an undercover infiltration into the auction with ARM’s Founder, Richard Couto, and two of ARM’s investigators.

Since ARM’s visit in October, detailed reports have been compiled by both ARM and APASDEM which have been addressed to leaders in the governing divisions who have the capability to control the animal cruelty violations that ARM’s investigation exposed. Countless animal cruelty violations including handling, medical attention and transportation, that are established regulations, were clear to being overseen and not enforced throughout the auction on ARM’s undercover operation. In APASDEM’s efforts to enforce humane handling of all of the animals at the San Bernabe Auctions, veterinary students are present, however ARM investigators witness a minimal effect for the animals who were suffering broken legs, open wounds and injuries. Some of the animals were only months old and were forced in excruciating pain, to walk onto the slaughter trucks, with no medical attention or euthanasia. Although their presence is seen to many as a grand effort, it is still a long way from stopping animals from enduring unnecessary pain, suffering and treatment. Much of this is due to the fact that a live horse or animals flesh is worth more than that of one that arrives at the slaughterhouse dead.

In regards to transportion violations, many of the animals are overloaded onto rickety trucks that are filled to over capacity. Many of the animals slip into cracks in-between the ramps and the trucks,  where they get their legs trapped in between the metal shafts. The handlers whip the animals senselessly even though it is obvious that the animals are unable to free themselves. They are also herded onto the trucks by whips, plastic bags on sticks flashed in their faces or cattle proded. It is a frightening experience for the animals who once are on the transports are left exposed in the open trailers with no water or shade.

Many people know the San Bernabe Markets as cruelty to horses, but there is so much more animal cruelty that was documented by ARM investigators.

Cattle are sold and tied tightly to the backs of pick up trucks on extremely short ropes. They are tied in a fashion that doesn’t allow them to hold their heads in a natural position, the ropes burning into their skin. They are confined in this painful position for hours (See in the gallery  below).

At the entrance to the market, turkeys are bound tight in bundles of ten or so birds. Cock rosters, goats, cats and puppies are kept in tiny ages and multiple species of animals are shoved into communial cages with no water, shade or food.

Leading press articles have also been undertaken and widely distributed. One of the leading Spanish newspapers El Pais recently conducted an article which received world wide attention.Read about it by clicking on this link

An in-depth and upcoming documentry feature with Fusion network will be released on this page, in the coming weeks.