A Florida judge has ordered that a horse-farm owner, who was arrested in Florida this summer and charged with possession of horsemeat, submit to weekly inspections by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, according to Richard “Kudo” Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission.
Orlando Vazquez Guzman, owner of G.A. Paso Fino Farm, of Palm Beach County, appeared before Judge Glenn Kelley Dec. 3 following his arrest earlier this summer on unlawful possession of horsemeat. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and is due back in court in March, according to a press release. As he awaits a second court appearance, the judge ordered weekly inspections to account for the animals remaining on his property, Couto said.
G.A. Paso Fino Farm, which is a quick walk from the fabled Wellington show grounds, was raided along with two others by local, state and federal officials following a six month undercover investigation led by Couto and the Animal Recovery Mission. Couto then turned over evidence of animal cruelty, abuse and illegal slaughter to the authorities, who immediately launched a tactical strike.
News of the raid grabbed national headlines, and some 750 animals, including dogs, cats, goats and pigs were saved. However, the horses who were housed at the G.A. Paso Fino Farm were allowed to remain.
During his court appearance last week, Guzman was asked to provide information on the six horses and assorted animals still living on the farm so that law enforcement officials can make weekly site inspections, Couto said.
“Although it’s unfortunate that he was allowed to keep these horses on his property, it is a victory that the judge ordered the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to conduct weekly animal inventory counts and property checks,” Couto said. “I know these officers, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, and the work they do.”
As charges against two other farms caught up in what Couto termed the “largest tactical strike on extreme animal cruelty operations in the United States history” progress through the court system, outrage has spilled over into the horse show world, Couto said. (Please read earlier story here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/10/16/cuoto-illegal-butchers-killed-show-horses-too/
Since news of the busts at G.A. Paso Fino, Rancho Garcia and Medina Farm spread, Couto has received numerous calls from show barns and international polo players, many pledging financial and sponsorship support, he said.
“We’ve had so many people contact us and ask what we need, and they’ve also asked how best to protect their horses,” Couto said. “There is so much interest in this that I hope to offer a tutorial at some point for people attending the shows in Wellington.”
During months spent working undercover to document the operations at the three farms, Couto and a team of ARM personnel took footage of livestock animals slaughtered inhumanely, and led lawmakers to a freezer at the Paso Fino Farm containing meat that has tested positive as equine, Couto said.
Couto has led dozens and dozens of similar raids on illegal slaughterhouses in the Miami-Dade region of Florida since 2010. He founded the Animal Recovery Mission after being inspired by an OTTB he rescued from the butcher’s blade. He discovered the chestnut gelding Freedom’s Flight, sired by Pulpit, tied to a tree, the next in line to be slaughtered in an illegal slaughterhouse.
After nursing the Thoroughbred ex-racehorse back to health, he vowed to fight to end the illegal slaughter of horses in the state. Please see that original article here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2014/04/14/liberated-from-illegal-butcher-a-horse-inspires/
“I vowed to that horse that I would seek redemption for him. One day, I told him, I’ll do it,” he said in an earlier interview.