2 accused of slaughtering operation appear in court
NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Two men accused of inhumanely slaughtering pigs and selling their meat appeared in federal court Friday morning.
An undercover operation led to the arrests of 50-year-old Gelio Hernandez and 46-year-old Angel Busurot, Thursday. According to officials, both men are facing a number of charges and have pleaded not guilty.
Investigators say Busurot was the ringleader of the slaughtering operation and has been slaughtering animals for quite some time. Richard Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission said, "This guy has been butchering animals alive for years and years."
According to federal agents, the crimes were taking place down a dark dirt road off Okeechobee Road in Northwest Miami-Dade. The U.S. Attorney's Office said, "At that location, the defendants engaged in the commercial slaughter of swine and goats. Hernandez and Busurot also processed, handled, stored, and sold the meat and meat food products at the site for human consumption."
7News obtained exclusive video of the horrific slaughters. According to authorities, the suspects would kill the animals, including pigs and goats, while they were still alive; then, they would illegally sell the animals' meat. "The animals are being beaten, they're not being fed properly," said Couto, "and worst of all, is that they're being taken apart prior to death."
The operation was once shut down back in 2010 but re-emerged. "They weren't hit hard enough with penalties and prosecuted properly," said Couto.
Hernandez is no stranger to the law and uploaded a plea on YouTube, in which he accused county environmental officials of harassment. He said in Spanish, "The allegations that the government is making, that these properties are a wetland, it's a big lie. This is a conspiracy of different agencies in Miami-Dade."
Couto believes some of the butchered animals were sold to local restaurants. "I'm sure that some of the smaller mom and pop butcher shops and restaurants are getting their meat for human consumption from some of these farms," he said. "Some of these smaller butcher shops and restaurants are buying this meat at half price compared to if they would from a legal distributor."
Couto estimates that there are as many as 1,000 similar swine slaughtering operations across the State of Florida, but about 90 of them have been shut down over the past two years. Couto said he believes they have solid evidence for a strong case in court. "I made sure and the USDA made sure that the footage that we got in that illegal farm was right on and solid, and it was," he said.
If the two are convicted on the charges of this investigation they can face up to 15 years in federal prison.
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