Couple appears in bond court after slaughterhouse bust
Angel Ricardo Vargas, Mayelin Rodriguez arrested at southwest Miami-Dade home
A South Florida couple accused of operating an illegal slaughterhouse appeared in bond court Friday.
Angel Ricardo Vargas, 45, who owns the farm at 19400 SW 136th St. in Miami-Dade County, is being held in lieu of $50,000 bond while his wife, Mayelin Rodriguez, 41, is being held in lieu of $25,000 bond.
Both defendants are required to prove that the money used to bond them out was earned legitimately.
Both face charges of cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals.
According to investigators, the slaughter farm business is operated at the rear of the property, where Vargas keeps his pigs, chickens, ducks and turkeys.
"Ricardo has been seen harshly stabbing pigs in the heart, followed by what might be the worst part of the killing process. Ricardo uses a gaff hook (a long pole with a sharp hook attached at the end, which is used to stab, hook and lift a large fish) into the pigs' mouth and drags it from the holding area to the slaughter area," ARM officials said in a news release. "Then, often while the pig is still alive and showing evident signs of life, Ricardo will drown it in a tub (of) boiling water where the suffering pig eventually suffocates or burns to death."
Investigators said Vargas' wife was also charged because she helped in the butcher and cleaning process and was aware of the entire operation.
All animals at the farm were seized Thursday, which included several endangered species, and the business will be permanently shut down.
Authorities said 100 pounds of suspected horse meat was also confiscated.
State and federal investigators are working to determine whether any meat from the farm has been sold to local grocery stores or restaurants, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
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