WARNING: Graphic Video
Authorities in Florida have arrested two people and shut down an illegal slaughterhouse operation in Miami-Dade following a five-month investigation, which revealed thousands of animals were being starved, deprived of water and slaughtered using cruel and inhumane methods.
The investigation into the roughly 200 acre Coco Farms was conducted by Miami-Dade Police, the volunteer-led Animal Recovery Mission and the State Attorney's Office, and found at least 3,000 animals kept in unsanitary conditions.
"These animals were starved to death," said Richard Couto of Animal Recovery Mission. "They're drinking polluted water. The animals that were fed were being fed intestines of newly slaughtered animals."
Police and volunteers worked well into the night Thursday and into Friday and recovered some 3,000 plus pigs, cows, goats and even dogs from the property, located at 41st Street and Northwest 118th Avenue in northwest Miami-Dade.
"Regular families were coming in here and picking out an animal and having it butchered in some of the more unsanitary conditions in the country," Couto added.
Police have arrested and charged 69-year-old Gregorio Santa Ana and 35-year-old Jose Armando Solis, both of Miami, on a long list of counts of animal cruelty.
Friday afternoon, Solis appeared in bond court on those charges, and was ordered held on a $19,000 bond.
It is not yet known if Solis had hired an attorney.
Santa Ana appeared later in the day Friday and was ordered held on $169,000 bond, with additional instructions to stay away from the slaughterhouse property. Santa Ana resides on that property, but prosecutors said that as of now, the property remains an active crime scene.
Santa Ana claimed in court that he has been dealing with animals for at least 40 years.
He was appointed a public defender in bond court, but said he intended to hire his private attorney for all future hearings.
Additionally, attorney Warren Eth has been assigned as the special prosecutor in the case.
Officials initially reported that 3,000 animals were recovered from the property. Investigators later estimated that there may have been at least twice that number of animals on the property. Many of the animals were in such poor health they had to be euthanized by veterinarians on the scene. Couto estimates that hundreds of animals had to be put down, and many are still dying.
Police and crews also found a number of already deceased animals scattered throughout the property, as well as diseased animals living in deplorable conditions.
The animals that authorities were are able to save are being handed over to volunteers with the Animal Recovery Mission to receive proper medical care and nutrition. Ultimately, ARM hopes to hand these animals over to sanctuaries in northern and central Florida.