One of the men accused of running an illegal slaughterhouse in Miami-Dade where thousands of animals were found in poor condition avoided prison time after agreeing to a plea deal Tuesday.
Gregorio Santa Ana was facing 26 counts of animal cruelty for operating the illegal slaughterhouse following his arrest in March 2015.
Prosecutors offered Santa Ana a plea deal in return for his cooperation with the ongoing investigation involving four other defendants. Last year, investigators raided Coco Farms in northwest Miami-Dade and found more than 3,000 animals in poor condition.
"This guy ran one of the most violent, illegal slaughterhouses in the United States, in the history of the U.S. really," said Richard Couto, with the Animal Recovery Mission. "Skinning animals alive, twisting their heads off alive, boiling animals alive, and he's been in operation he admitted for close to 40 years."
Santa Ana told detectives he operated the business but didn't participate in the slaughter. So on Tuesday he pled guilty and received five years of probation with no time behind bars. His probation includes no access to animals or to running a business involving animals.
"He's a 71-year old man who is in poor health and just wanted to get this resolved," defense attorney Robert Barrar said.
If Santa Ana had gone to trial and been found him guilty he would have gone away for 80 years. And that still holds true if he violates the terms of his probation.