Two men are in custody after investigators discovered they were running an illegal slaughterhouse in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Leonardo Dumenigo, 62, and Yainiel Proenza, 30, were arrested on animal cruelty charges for running the slaughterhouse in the area of 15701 SW 177 Avenue, according to an arrest warrant from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
The arrests are the result of an eight-month undercover investigation by the Animal Recovery Mission. Investigator Richard Couto witnessed the two men butcher a goat and two rabbits alive, as the animals visibly struggled.
The Animal Recovery Mission provided the video to the state attorney's office, which then issued arrest warrants.
More than 500 animals have been recovered with the help of Miami-Dade Police, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Miami Rooster Rescue and the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station out of Miami Beach, according to Couto. The animals include horses, sheep, goats, turtles, rabbits, dogs, cats and all types of birds.
Couto said the animals were used primarily sold for use in Santeria and other religious rituals.
"It's really a makeshift butcher alley they had set up here, where they would just drag animals in the back and butcher them alive," Couto said. "You know, they were skinning animals alive."
The animals will be taken to Animal Recovery Mission sanctuaries across Florida.
Dumenigo and Proenza are being held on $15,000 bond each. It is unclear if they have an attorney.
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