The Animal Recovery Mission (ARM Investigations) strives to succeed to the maximum degree in each and every investigative mission which we undertake. In the short time that ARM has exsisted, we have produced ground breaking results in the efforts to expose, eliminate and bring justice forth to illegal activities involving extreme animal cruelty and torture. To date, ARM has accomplished the following;
THE C9 BASIN
ARM’s initial large scale investigation led to the complete closure of an area in Miami, Florida known as The C9 Basin. This raid became iconic in exposing the hidden underworld society of the illegal animal slaughter farm trade that had been operating, ungoverned, over the last 50 years in South Florida. Animal fighting rings, animal sacrifice and irreversible environmental damage were also heavily associated with the farms.
Arm’s extensive undercover operations produced footage of extreme animal cruelty and countless illegal activities that could not be ignored by authorities. ARM’s Founder, Richard Kudo Couto requested an assembly of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, environmental and agriculture protection departments and the State attorney office of Miami-Dade County, which he then led on a joint task force raid. As a result of this operation, the illegal properties were raided, closed and over 600 structures were demolished. Seventy(70) illegal slaughter, animal fighting rings and animal sacrifice farms were closed. This raid was the largest extreme animal cruelty raid in the United States and one of the largest Government operations in Florida’s history.
ARRESTS AND CONVICTIONS OF HORSE KILLERS
In January, as a result of ARM’s undercover investigations and public awareness programs, two men were arrested and sentenced to a total of nine years in prison for the brutal slaughter of two stolen pet horses (one a registered breed) and the selling of their meat, for human consumption. This was the first case of it’s kind in the State of Florida.
THE GOOD HORSE SLAUGHTER ACT
In part due to the work of ARM Investigations, legislation titled “The Good Horse Slaughter Act”, was passed in the state of Florida. This became a groundbreaking law in the United States that makes it a third degree felony for any person to buy, sell, transport, kill a horse or posses horse meat for human consumption within the state of Florida. The penalties stand as a minimum of one year in jail and a $3,500 fine. Florida Senate Representative Luis Garcia introduced this bill which went into effect on October 1, 2010.
TWIN PEAKS ROUND UP INVESTIGATION
In September, ARM formed an alliance with wild horse advocacy organization, Respect 4 horses, on a joint investigation of the BLM and the Department of the Interior’s motives for rounding up the wild mustang herds of Twin Peaks in California.
ARM and Respect 4 Horses interviewed several members of both Departments and followed the round up of this herd into a Government run holding facility. Following the operation, Richard Couto met with the heads of The Department of the Interior to challenge the necessity for the Twin Peaks Round up as being unjustifiable. The documentation and footage that ARM presented proved that the main reasons for the wild horses need to be rounded up, was for their own survival due to a lack of food and water sources. This was quickly proven to be false! ARM and Respect 4 Horses were the only organizations to conduct an intensive field investigation during the Twin Peaks round up. From our investigations, it was determined that all of the wild horse trap sites had been set up close to plentiful water sources and areas that the horses regularly visited. All herds were zeroed out of Twin Peaks.
THE WALKER LAKE HERD
ARM Investigations and Respect 4 Horses headed a campaign to save a herd of wild mustangs in Nevada, which have since been titled “The Walker Lake Herd”. The BLM had scheduled the herd to be removed (and be forever penned) in November 2010. Due to the strong campaigning of both organizations, the roundup was called off on November 3, 2010 and the herd is now safe in their natural habitat. This is the first time in United States history that a wild horse roundup has been called off by the BLM due to pressure from an outside organization. The herd is now overseen and managed by ARM.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
In the duration of 2010, ARM investigated 18 cases of horses being illegally slaughtered for their meat for human consumption in Miami-Dade County,Fl. The brutal, backyard operations of the ‘black market’ horse meat trade were exposed and highlighted through the aid of the Media in National and International news coverage, as well as with respected TV network programs including MTV’s World of Jenks, CNN Justice, Inside Edition and ESPN E:60. Before ARM’s investigations, horse meat was being illegally, yet freely traded into Florida restaurants, butcher shops and within the community. Although the black market horse meat trade continues to operate, it has been forced to become further restricted, forcing the industry to suffer and soon, diminish. ARM is the first organization in the United States to expose and investigate the underground horse meat trade.
THE HORSE RACING INDUSTRY
ARM’s investigations on the Calder Racecourse in Florida unraveled several connections between the Thoroughbred racing industry, illegal slaughter farms and the black market horse meat trade. ARM uncovered that the majority of horses entering the illegal slaughter farms in South Florida were tracing back to employees of race tracks such as trainers and pony handlers. In 2011, ARM targeted a pony handler by the name of Jorge Ortega who was responsible for a large supply of unwanted and injured racehorses being sold to the slaughter farms. As a result of ARM’s findings, Parimutuel wagering (PMW) had Ortega’s State racing license pulled and he was banned from the racing industry. ARM also worked with Churchill Down’s Calder racecourse to rewrite their code of ethics, procedures, security of equine at the track and now diligently aides in the protection of racehorses.
ARM’s presence and involvement with racecourses across Florida and the US are making an impact on the proper procedures of racehorses to deter them from ‘falling through the cracks’. This in turn has greatly impacted the extreme abuse, humane treatment and euthanasia for injured horses and promoted thoroughbred retirement programs , such as TRAC.
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS
ARM often participates in educational and public speaking programs with high schools, grammar schools and universities to educate students and raise awareness on animal cruelty and the work that our organization undertakes. ARM also consistently attends conventions and rallies as honorary guest speakers in its efforts educate and eliminate illegal and extreme acts of animal cruelty.
CIUDAD DE JUAREZ, MEXICO
In the spring of 2011, ARM entered into Juarez, Mexico and went deep undercover to document the operations of one of the world’s most inhumane slaughter houses. The mission involved a week long sting where ARM documented the layout, daily functions and necessary details required for further investigations. ARM is scheduled to return later in 2012 and 2013 to resume investigations and expose the extremely cruel methods used to kill the slaughter bound horses. This was the first time in seven years that an organization investigated the municipal slaughter house.
‘EPIC’ WILD MUSTANG RESCUE
In June, ARM investigators discovered a BLM branded wild mustang upon an illegal slaughter farm whilst undercover in Hillsborough County of Tampa Bay, Fl. Without compromising the investigators character with the horse killers, ARM devised a plan and bought Epic for $450 under the pretense of using the mustang as a riding horse. Days after the rescue, Epic was diagnosed as being pregnant. Epic and unborn foal were promptly transported The Marty Wolfson Rehabilitation Center ( owner of the last Triple Crown Winner “Affirmed”) then transferred to The Wild Horse Rescue Centre in Mims (FL) in preparations for the pregnancy. ARM’s intervention spared two lives and a healthy, leggy foal was born in March of 2012.
In November of 2012, Epic, her colt and Miss Mara (another rescued mustang) were transported to “Return to Freedoom”, a Wild Horse Sanctuary located in Santa Barbara, CA. These three mustangs will live out their remaining days,untouched by humans, in the rolling hills of the exclusive Santa Barbara wine country.
SAN BERNABE MERCADO, MEXICO
In June, ARM collaborated in one of the largest joint campaigns of animal welfare groups in the USA and Mexico to shed light on one of the world’s most deplorable animal auctions – The San Bernabe Auction on the outskirts of Mexico City. The campaign included The Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), Animals Angels, The Equine Welfare Alliance, The Animal Law Coalition, The Anti Fur Society and Mexico’s leading animal advocates, ADASDEM.
Together these organizations worked to release video documentation and footage to the Governor and next potential President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. ARM’s heavy involvement in the campaign has formed into our own investigation to urge the government to enforce existing Federal Laws for the welfare of animals at the San Bernabe Market and put an end to the cruelty that exists there.
ARM Investigations work with the Florida State legislature aided in the passage of a law making bestiality a crime in the State. The law was signed into effect on October 1, 2011 making Florida the 37th U.S. State to criminalize bestiality. ARM has gone deep undercover into one of the darkest of world’s and for the first time, has exposed the extreme abuse and divisions of this industry. ARM will continue our work in abolishing this practice as our investigation continues. The United States is considered to be, by many, as ‘The Bestiality tourism capital of the World’.
FOX & COYOTE PENNING GAMES
In October ARM investigators travelled to Emporia in Virginia where they conducted a four (4) day Fox and Coyote Penning event. The Poole’s Foxhound training Preserve Facility that ARM targeted, has been actively running these games for over 20 years. Investigators posed as avid hunters and documented every accent of the games, the society and of course the torturous and unfair ‘blood sport’ of Fox and Coyote Penning games. Never before has an animal welfare organization undertaken undercover investigations of these games to this extent in the United States, until ARM. Investigations are currently ongoing to phase out this sadistic ‘sport’.
ACOSTA ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARM
The November Rudy Acosta raid has become one of the most prominent and talked about cases amongst the animal world. The sting operation and raid was the largest animal rescue of 2011 in the United States and involved an extensive task force upon the request of ARM’s founder, Richard Couto. Local, state and federal law enforcement, USDA, environmental protection agencies and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office were present and responsible for aiding ARM in bringing one of America’s most dangerous animal killers and ringleaders to justice. Animals on site were butchered alive with sledgehammers, axes and at times boiled alive. Because of the raid, ARM was able to rescue over 600 animals from the imminent fate of being tortured and slaughtered alive for human consumption.The animals are now living on protected sanctuaries across America. Rudy Acosta, and his four employees, are currently awaiting trial in the courts of Florida State
SANTERIA, PALO MAYOMBE AND RELIGIOUS ANIMAL SACRIFICE
ARM was the first organization to publicly challenge the Santeria Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye and its high priest (and President) Oba Ernesto Pichardo, on the sacrifice of animals for religious purposes. ARM’s campaign followed one of Florida’s most prominent Santeria churches lawsuits, where in 1993 US Supreme Judges had stated that they questioned the fine line of the First Amendment protected acts allowing freedom of religion in the US, and its practices and animal cruelty.
ARM has investigated and exposed the inhumane treatment of animals while being housed, ‘packaged’, transported and killed in the name of religion. ARM has also investigated the illegal dumping of thousands of sacrificed animals in the State of Florida and are working with authorities on prosecuting offenders.
ARM also began investigating Santeria’s ‘evil twin’, Palo Mayombe, after we continued to discover decapitated dogs, cats and horses in Florida on a regular basis. Palo Mayombe is the darkest form of black magic which originated in Africa’s congo and is widely practiced in the State of Florida as well as throughout the United States of America.
In May ARM and Fox news uncovered the largest Palo Mayombe ceremonial site that has ever been documented and investigated various domestic and exotic animal remains, including a human skull, were recovered. ARM investigators collaborated with Law Enforcement, CSI, The Board of Health, Miami-Dade State Attorny’s office and the Medical Examiners office of Miami. It was later discovered that the skull was laced with Mercury and a public health advisory was released by the State of Florida to residents.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
Over the duration of 2011, ARM investigators embedded themselves with some of the worst horse killers in the world and have actively investigated 25 illegal horse slaughter cases in the state of Florida.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
In January, whilst on a routine check up of the C9 Basin, ARM investigators discovered four severely emaciated horses believed to be intended for illegal slaughter. Working in alliance with the South Florida SPCA and TRAC, ARM seized the four horses who traced back to former registered racehorses, two of which were high stakes winners and one, Mc Murphy, who ascends from a line of royalty to Bold Ruler, one of US greatest racehorses.
ARM investigated and found former managers of the horses to be guilty of animal abuse who regularly sold their horses for slaughter. ARM, TRAC, TROT, Tampa Bay Downs, Calder Racecourse and Parimutuel Wagering (PMW) are combing efforts in the investigation. All horses are now healthy, happy and up for adoption. Refer to ARM’s adoption.
PUBLIC AWARENESS WITH NAT GEO WILD TV SHOW
In May, ARM was highlighted on the National Geographic Wild network with Henry Rollins. ARM addressed Horse meat consumption and the Black Market horse meat trade in South Florida. This program reached an international audience and educated millions of people of the issues that ARM combats daily.
You can view this in our Press section of our website to learn more.
TAMPA BAY ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARMS
In May of 2011, ARM was contacted by Tampa Bay residents to investigate the illegal slaughter farms and horse slaughter issue in their County. Due to the lack of enforcement by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, this lawlessness has been allowed to evolve into a thriving ‘underground’ organized crime.
ARM’s Founder took on a new identity and immersed himself in the illegal slaughter farm society. It wasn’t until trusted relationships were created that the true horrors of the killers ongoings were revealed. The animals on the farms, ranging from horses, donkeys, dogs, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, emus and other birds being starved to death, stabbed, axed, shot, clubbed and boiled alive for the purpose of human consumption.
The animal killers themselves have stated that up to 1,000 horses and countless other animals are being killed every year in the Hillsborough County.
On many of the farms, children as young as 4 years old were either present during killings or forced by their parents to take part in the torture. The farms are unsanitary and are violating; food safety, environmental, building &zoning codes, IRS and child labor laws, to name a few.
After a year long investigation by ARM, the Sheriff’s Department and the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s were made aware of the crimes with concrete audio and video evidence, which was responded with little or no enforcement. ARM then teamed up with The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and due to the lack of action taken, is suing the killers directly.
In November of 2012, Jorge Ortega was arrested for killing and selling horse meat to an ARM investigator and USDA agent. This was the first arrest to be made under The Good Horse Slaughter Act of 2010. ARM is still waiting for up to 12 additional felony arrests resulting from ARM’s investigations.
ARM will continue our efforts until enforcement in Hillsborough, Florida, recognizes the extreme animal cruelty issue and responsibility in their county.
AREA 97 ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARMS INVESTIGATIONS
Initiating investigations in 2010, ARM’s Founder, Richard ‘Kudo’ Couto, went deep undercover in this area of Hialeah, FL for two years in an effort to expose the extreme degree of animal cruelty which was being conducted on a daily basis. ARM targeted eighteen (18) illegal animal slaughter, animal fighting and animal sacrifice farms which have also been tied to the black market horse meat trade, environmental and code compliance crimes. The farms have been active for over the last 50 years with little to no law enforcement until ARM.
An estimated 300 animals per day were being illegally slaughtered with sledgehammers, knives, machetes, guns, strangled and at time boiled alive. In conjunction with the Miami-Dade State Attorneys office, ARM has subsequently shut down operations on all but three farms, which will be closed down in the near future.
ILLEGAL STALLION FIGHTING & HORSE SLAUGHTER, TIJUANA, MEXICO
In July, ARM Investigators initiated the first steps on infiltrating the underground world of fighting stallions in Mexico. Preliminary investigation traced leads from several southern California racetracks where employees of the tracks have been involved in transporting ex thoroughbred racehorses over the border into greater Tijuana, Mexico and selling them to the underground horse meat trade and backyard butcher shops. Before going to slaughter, many of the registered racehorse stallions are being paired up against one another and put into a ring, similar to dog and cock fighting. Forced into bloody battles, the stallions fight to the death whilst spectators bet money on which stallion will make the kill. ARM has also identified a backyard horse slaughter area where US racehorses are being transported directly from California based racetracks. In 2012-2013, ARM will be entering Mexico and will expose the soaring profit industry of stallion fighting and horse slaughter.
SALT RIVER WATER HORSES (ARIZONA)
In August 2012, ARM and Respect 4 Horses combined forces to duplicate the successful Walker Lake Herd campaign in a desperate fight to save the threatened Salt River Water Horses of Arizona. In the coming months, the US Forest service has plans to round up an estimated 80-100 wild horses who grace the banks of the Mesa River, 15 minutes from the bustling city of Phoenix. The Salt River Herd is the only herd of wild horses to be titled as ‘water horses’. Investigations are currently underway.
ANGEL BUSUROT ILLEGAL ANIMAL SLAUGHTER FARM
Cold blooded animal killer and ringleader Angel Busorot, along with Gelio Hernandez, owned and operated the property, Finca El Novilloin located in NW Miami-Dade, Florida. In 2010 ARM investigators targeted and closed down operations for illegally slaughtering animals and selling un-inspected USDA meat for human consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) became aware that they were once again re open for business. At the USDA‘s request, a joint sting operation was conducted with ARM, the USDA and law enforcement to obtain the necessary evidence and footage. Both Busurot and Hernandez were arrested in August and are both currently awaiting trail. If the two are convicted, as expected, they will be facing an estimated combined sentence of 15 years imprisonment for butchering animals alive and selling un inspected meat to the general public.
ILLEGAL HORSE SLAUGHTER
ARM has investigated 45 Illegal horse slaughter cases throughout the State of Florida in 2012 and is continuing its efforts to break down the Black Market horse meat trade industry and its connections. ARM has publicly addressed that the illegal horse slaughter industry, and its uncontrolled operating thoughout the State of Florida is a result of little or no law enforcement from authorities. ARM estimates that over 20,000 horses a year are being illegally slaughtered and their meat entering this trade.
‘CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD’
ARM’s Founder was awarded the “Citizen Of The Year Award” in Miami Dade, Florida. This was honored to him for his dedication to animal welfare and for fighting extreme animal cruelty in the Miami Dade County.
VIP ANIMAL SALES RAID
The June raid and animal rescue upon VIP Animal Sales was the first stage of a two part operation, following ARM’s extensive eight month investigation into the brutal underground trading of animals for the purpose of religious sacrifice. These horrific crimes against animals are some of the first to be revealed where animals are not only deprived of their basic rights of food, water, shelter or medicine, but of the respect and treatment that they are ‘supposed’ to receive as offerings in Santeria and Palo Mayombe ceremonies.
The operators and offenders of VIP Animal Sales were also documented for torturous acts in butchering animals, often times alive, for human consumption.
Due to ARM’s investigations and it’s combined efforts with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office and local law enforcement agencies, four men were arrested including a convicted horse killer and known pedophile. Almost 100 animals were rescued and placed in sanctuaries throughout Florida on the day of the raid.
VIP Animal Sales has now been closed for business and the four criminal offenders await serious multiple felony and criminal charges in the coming months.
PROENZA FARM RAID
The second sting operation upon Proenza Farm was undertaken in the same week as VIP Animal Sales, following ARM’s same eight month investigation into animals being traded for animal sacrifice as well as animals slaughtered in un-licensed backyard establishments for human consumption.
Proenza Farm was operated by a father and son team who are both awaiting trial with an extensive list of crimes and violations, including animal cruelty resulting in death. This ‘criminal duo’ are guilty of some of the most inhumane acts against animals including the mistreatment of animals traded for religious sacrifice ceremonies. Goats were documented as being thrown to the ground, bound tightly with duct tape or rope and thrown into unventilated trunks of cars for transportation. Being that these acts are being conducted in South Florida where temperatures in car trunks can reach over 110 degrees, these crimes are considered serious criminal animal cruelty charges.
As a result of the Proenza Farm Raid, and the combined efforts of the Miami Dade State Attorney’s office and Law enforcement agencies, ARM succeeded in recovering over 600 animals during this raid.
Criminal proceedings and sentences will be executed in the following months for the offenders of Proenza Farm. The rescued animals are now living on protected sanctuaries across America.