At an illegal slaughterhouse in West Miami-Dade, pigs were shot, stabbed, beaten with sledgehammers and gutted and boiled while alive, authorities said Wednesday.
An undercover investigation, conducted late last year by the private group Animal Recovery Mission and Miami-Dade police, resulted in the arrest Wednesday of the slaughterhouse’s operator.
Raul “Freaky” Fernandez, 53, was charged with seven felony counts of animal cruelty. The private investigators posing as customers captured the alleged abuse on hidden video just before Christmas in December, when demand for whole pigs for roasting is high.
The slaughterhouse was located on a rural property on the 17700 block of Northwest 137th Avenue.
“On video surveillance, pigs can be seen being dragged, hook-mouthed through the jaw, at distances of approximately 150 feet, all while the animals remain alive,” according to an arrest warrant.
In one example, a undercover operative agreed to buy a boar, which was then shot with a “small-caliber” rifle. The animal did not die, but instead thrashed and kicked for three minutes as it was dragged over 150 feet, the warrant said.
In another example, a pig – after being hammered and stabbed – was thrown into a vat of boiling water while still showing signs of life, the warrant said. An employee used a shovel to hold the pig under water, police said.
“No legitimate slaughterhouse operator or any self-respecting farmer would treat his livestock in such a ghastly manner,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.
Fernandez could not be reached. It was not clear on Wednesday if he had retained a lawyer.
Unlicensed slaughterhouses have become commonplace in western parts of Miami-Dade County, where authorities in recent years have busted offenders for illegally butchering and selling horse meat, pigs and chickens.
This is not the first local operation led by Animal Recovery Mission that has led to arrests.
In November, Hialeah slaughterhouse owner Rudesino “Rudy” Acosta pleaded guilty and accepted 10 years of probation after the mission’s founder, Richard Kouto, filmed the slaughter of some animals on the property in 2011.