A massive raid is underway in Miami-Dade County as law enforcement authorities are targeting the illegal slaughterhouses operating in the area.
County, state and federal officials from 17 different agencies descended on the area of the C9 Basin, where butchers work without licenses slaughtering hundreds of animals a day.
"It's disgusting," said Richard Couto, an SPCA animal abuse investigator who runs a one-man animal welfare endeavor called Animal Rescue Mission.
Among the slaughterhouses raided this morning was the one run by Rudy Acosta, one of the largest of the dozens of illegal slaughterhouse near Ockeechobee Rd. and the Turnpike.
Last week, NBCMiami accompanied Couto as he toured Acosta's farm, discovering he was slaughtering animals without a license in deplorable conditions.
"You know that slaughtering animals is illegal, without a license, right?" Couto asked Acosta. "And that's basically what you guys are doing."
"We usually don't slaughter," Acosta said. "But it's a holiday today. Worst time."
It's unknown if any arrests will be made or how many other farms have been targeted by the sweeps in the area, but several violations are expected to be issued. Scores of animals are expected to be seized and removed from the properties and be taken to nearby sanctuaries.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, which is leading the raids, hopes to shut down the farms which have been allowed to operate in the open for several years.
The area was the target of similar raids in December, in an effort to stop the black market trade of illegal horse meat. No horse meat was found, but several instances of unsanitary conditions including a blood-dripping goat carcass missing its head were found.
Couto said whether its horses, goats, pigs or any other animal, Miami-Dade is the epicenter of the illegal trade.
"This doesn't happen anywhere else in America, this is isolated, just like the black market horsemeat trade, it is isolated to South Florida, mainly Miami-Dade." Couto said. "I've researched illegal slaughter all over the country and it's Miami is where the problem is."