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South Florida slaughterhouse under scrutiny after video emerges showing alleged animal abuse

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A federal agency is looking into a disturbing, graphic video taken by an animal rights group.

The group is ARM, or Animal Recovery Mission, and it is saying that the footage appears to show an extreme case of animal cruelty at a South Florida slaughterhouse.

The group said the video, which was shot while undercover at Matadero Cabrera, Mary’s Ranch in 2019, documents the improper slaughter of captive animals.

The Northwest Miami-Dade slaughterhouse is USDA-affiliated.

Richard Couto is the founder of ARM, a group that describes itself as a vanguard investigative animal welfare organization.

“This all happened in front of USDA investigators,” Couto said. “How in the world does this happen in front of trained federal inspectors and at times, law enforcement?”

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the facility told Local 10′s Christina Vazquez that they are contracted by the company to provide off-duty security.

When contacted, an FHP spokesperson told Local 10:

“Mary’s Ranch Inc., employs off-duty Florida Highway Patrol troopers to provide security and maintain flow of traffic in and out of the property during the holiday season.”

Through the on-site trooper, Local 10 requested an interview with the owner of the slaughterhouse but they declined to speak about ARM’s video and related allegations.

The USDA told Local 10 they have received ARM’s video and are looking into it.

The slaughterhouse’s first Federal Grant of Inspection was in 1997, they said.

For Couto, beyond an outcome that federal regulators and law enforcement will launch an investigation, Monday’s news conference was staged to send a consumer alert during a week where roasted pigs for Noche Buena are quite popular with locals. He is asking the public to flex their purchasing power.

“The only way to change things is by not purchasing the product,” Couto said. “Is a mere arrest going to change things for the public? Is the closure of this place for an inspection for mere days, as I am sure it would be, change things for the public?

The public needs to stop coming to Cabrera’s and giving their money to this hell hole. This place is run by monsters who don’t care about people’s safety, animal safety, environmental safety. Stop coming to Cabrera’s and giving your money to the slaughterhouse and this slaughterhouse will close just like that. That fast and it will never open again.”

Local 10 also reached out to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office regarding the video and allegations. They responded with the following statement:

“On speaking with our staff, it appears that we have never heard of Mary’s Ranch Matador Cabrera Slaughterhouse. If MDPD has an ongoing investigation of this entity, we are unaware of it. I suggest that you get further clarification from MDPD. We have been presented with video from MDPD. This material is presently being reviewed.” -Ed Griffith, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Spokesperson.

Additionally, the Miami-Dade Police Department said it has already invited ARM to meet with them about the case and present their findings and related documentation.

UPDATE:

Local 10 reached out to Miami-Dade County regarding the Matadero Cabrera, Mary’s Ranch facility and any case history, and received the following message:

The original case is an unsafe structures case that was opened in 2010 citing 22 structures that were not properly permitted and in violation of the approved site plan for the property.  The Department entered into a number of Compliance Consent Agreements (CCA) with the property owner to obtain the required permits. These agreements lay out a plan and timeline for achieving compliance. Of those structures, staff has verified demolition of 5 structures; 13 active process numbers for legalization, and the site plan provided by the owner identifies 4 structures as having been removed, and those are pending verification by our staff.

As the property owner set out to correct the structures violations, they had to now address how they were using the property. This is where I mentioned to you that they lacked a Certificate of Use (CU), and a zoning violation case was opened. As part of the CCA, a CU was approved with conditions that the property owner continue the building process of legalizing the structures. This CU was based on resolution Z-20-84 (attached), to allow use as a hog slaughterhouse. In 2017, the property owner submitted an application and went through another zoning hearing process to change the use of the property from a hog slaughterhouse to a slaughterhouse for all animals permissible by USDA policies and regulations. That application was approved (resolution is also attached), and based on that, their current CU has a renewal date of 9/30/2021. However, if they don’t comply with the requirements of unsafe structures case, the CU can be revoked, as compliance in that case is a condition of having a valid CU.

Under the most recent agreement, the property owner was to have obtained the required permits for legalization by 10/18/2020. The permits have not been obtained. While the owner contacted the Department to request an amended agreement before the most recent one expired, we have not decided if we will enter into a new agreement and are weighing our options to determine what would be the best course of action at this point to obtain compliance.

Related stories involving ARM:

From 2019: https://www.local10.com/news/2019/05/09/known-animal-abuser-back-in-business-undercover-videos-show/

From 2018: https://www.local10.com/news/2018/06/24/animal-rights-group-says-it-found-cockfighting-site-in-southwest-miami-dade/

From 2012: https://www.local10.com/news/2012/12/21/go-undercover-with-animal-recovery-mission/


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