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At the end of 2012, ARM began it’s Operation Sector 9 investigations into the thriving underground trading of animals for the purposes of religious sacrifice. After ARM identified a large number of Animal Sacrifice Farms trading animals to the public for Santeria and Palo Mayombe ceremonies in South Miami, two locations were determined and investigated.
Whilst the selling and sacrificing of animals under these religions is protected by the “Freedom Of Religion Act”, the way in which they the animals are treated and handled prior to sacrifice is not acceptable, humane nor legal. Animals such as goats, sheep, calves, rabbits and ducks are being slammed to the ground, dragged, hogtied then put inside trash bags prior to them being confined into automobile trunks for transportation.
Many times temperatures inside the trunks reach well over 120 degrees and with little to no ventilation the animals suffer tremendously, and often times perish from shock and injuries. It is at this point that serious animal cruelty crimes are taking place.
Although addressing Religion is a sensitive topic, people who practice Santeria and Palo Mayombe, as well as the traders who supply the animals, have become complacent about the way in which they think that they can treat the animals and act as if they are untouchable or unaccountable for their actions that are so called protected by the law. However this has now evolved into a case of abusing the very system that was put in place to protect their religions rights and has in turn jeopardized the basic rights to life for the many animals which they sacrifice.
The Freedom of Religion is not what ARM challenges in it’s investigations, it is the unnecessary suffering and sheer disregard of an animal’s life that the organization strives to change. Under the Statue of animal cruelty crimes and in the State of Florida, the inhumane transportation and handling of animals, including those for religious purposes, is classified as a convicting crime.
For Operation Sector 9, two ‘farms’ that were operating as animal sacrifice and slaughter farms were targeted. They were known as VIP Animal Sales and Proenza Farm & Hay Supplies.
Like most of these types of farms, the Proenza and VIP farms were both running multiple businesses illegally with no licenses for housing, building, butchering or selling animals or their meat to the public. None of the animals that are butchered or sold meet the USDA standards and are not certified for human consumption.
The main illegal operations that were being conducted upon these farms included animal fighting, religious sacrifice trading, animal slaughter for human consumption and connection to underground horse slaughter (also for human consumption). These were being carried out by some of the most violent criminals of ARM’s investigations to date,
￼and held serious rap sheets of dangerous criminal acts such as pedophilia, horse slaughter, money laundering and drug/arms violations.
Besides the violent crimes on animals, the meat being consumed are heavily diseased and tainted and posses serious health violations to the public. Many of these ‘farms’ also sell meat to small mom and pops stores and restaurants adding an even larger element of danger to the community. These businesses operate publicly and are openly advertising ‘animales para religion’ (animals for religion). In addition, there are also serious issues for the environment and protected wildlife such as red feather tailed eagles, species of turtles and even endangered lions that are being sacrificed.
The crimes against animals:
Farms such as the Proenza and VIP properties, are just the base of where many criminal acts of animal cruelty are being conducted. Upon these farms, animal slaughter (for human consumption), animal fighting, the black market horse meat trade and animal sacrifice trading are serving as the backbones of generating profits in exchange of animals lives.
Through extensive investigations ARM documented the handlers process and crimes, which once presented to State Attorney Prosecutors and law enforcement agencies were quickly deemed concrete illegal acts and thus led to the arrests and raids on these two farms and their operators.
ARM’s investigations uncovered some of the most violent and heartless acts of torture and neglect towards animals to date. Aside the abuse subjected to animals intended for religious sacrifice, these farms were also involved in the following acts of extreme animal cruelty;
• beating, skinning, drowning and butchering animals alive
• excruciating deaths involving animals throats being sawed off with dull blades.
• animal cruelty resulting in death
• animal fighting (including breeding, selling)
• trading animals for religious sacrifice
• depriving animals of basic food, medicine, water and shelter.
• use of drugs and killing animals whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol
• illegal selling of un inspected meat and operating/selling without a license
• existing probation violations
The neglect and abuse towards the animals doesn’t end there. All of the animals, whilst awaiting their deaths were subjected to a life of misery. As with all of these types of farms, animals are deprived of basic food and water and are often times (and documented by ARM Investigators) have no alternative but to feed on the remains of the blood of their freshly slaughtered friends for survival. They lived in tiny wire cages, sometimes with many different animals and are all exposed to diseases such as CDR respiratory infections, phenomena, Coccidia, internal parasite infestation, tick borne disease, malnutrition and organ failures that all left untreated result in a drown out and agonizing death.
Results of the raid:
Prior to our investigations, the operators of these ‘farms’ had left ungoverned and were basically making their own rules due to a lack of knowledge of these crimes and budget cutbacks within enforcement agencies. These acts have been occurring for the last 50 odd years on countless farms…until now.
In the State of Florida, hundreds (if not more) farms are operating in this manner. ARM’s goal is to bring this issue to the fore front and make strong examples out of a number of the guilty offenders. This will demonstrate enforcement in this industry that has never been taken before.
The animal sacrifice industry is a small, well connected world and ARM’s presence will circulate rapidly amongst the industry ensuring that people will both act and handle animals in a more ethical and humane way.
As for illegal animal slaughter farms, ARM’s investigations will ensure that they are eliminated and animals will be better protected against these extreme acts of animal cruelty.
Due to the combined efforts of ARM’s extensive undercover investigations and the commitment from The Miami Dade State Attorney’s office and local Law Enforcement, two raids and animal rescues were miraculously undertaken in a span of 5 days of each other.
A total number of over 650 animals were seized, treated and relocated to permanent loving homes, including four cock fighting roosters who entered a rehabilitation program. Multiple arrests and felony charges, including animal cruelty resulting death and currently in the process of being sentenced in the Court of Law. Click on the images below to learn more about the two investigations involved with Operation Sector 9.