3rd Suspect Arrested In Horse Slaughter

Police: Horse Legs Found In Van

Published On: Dec 27 2011 12:27:07 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 05 2011 04:38:42 AM EST
MIAMI -

A third suspect has been arrested after horse body parts were discovered in a van in May.

Juan Martinez-Gonzalez, 44, of Hialeah, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the May 26 discovery of a van carrying horse meat.

Miami-Dade police said a resident reported a suspicious vehicle with what appeared to be blood on its outside parked in the 13100 block of Northwest 182nd Street. Police discovered three coolers full of meat and a bag with horse legs inside the vehicle. A horse carcass also was discovered near Northwest 132nd Avenue and Northwest 174th Street.

The vehicle's owner, Ramon Clemente, 36, and Modesto Chavez-Villa, 54, who was traveling with Clemente, were arrested in May on charges of loitering and prowling.

Police said investigators had found fingerprints smeared with blood on the van, and they later matched the prints with those of Martinez-Gonzalez.

Illegal horse slaughter has been a problem in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for the last year. More than two-dozen horses were found killed and slaughtered in South Florida in 2009, their owners waking up to find their animals slaughtered.

Police believe the horses' killers in the 2009 cases did it so they could sell their pricey meat, which sells for as much as $40 per pound on the black market. Five people were arrested in connection with those cases.

Authorities said meat from the slaughtered horses could sicken or kill people who eat it because of antibiotics and other medicines that are given to the horses.