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LCA Undercover Footage Reveals Gruesome Slaughter of Pigs in Illegal Tampa, FL Backyard Farms

LCA's undercover footage of illegal backyard slaughter in Tampa, FLLCA's undercover footage of illegal backyard slaughter in Tampa, Florida


In an undercover investigation, LCA’s Special Investigations Unit (LCA SIU) obtained disturbing footage of pigs being slaughtered in the Tampa, Florida area.  These backyard butchers were clearly violating the Humane Slaughter Act, the Florida State Humane Slaughter Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act.



The investigation took place at the Hernandez Farm, owned and operated by Braulio Hernandez. It is difficult to watch the footage which includes the shooting of two pigs and their subsequent suffering as they are knifed and dragged by a slaughter hook across the floor.  However, viewing the footage is necessary as there is a need for public awareness regarding illegal slaughterhouses. In the video, one poor sow endures a dramatic struggle for her life before she bleeds to death, while a boar kicks and fights as he is being dragged across the blood-stained floor to the butcher table, bleeding to death.

Braulio Hernandez counting cash from sale of pigsBraulio Hernandez counting cash from sale of pigsLCA’s SIU investigation was prompted by the lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in Florida’s 13th District Court in Tampa against Cuesta and Planchart Farms, whose gruesome violations of animal cruelty and nuisance laws were brought to light in a shocking undercover video investigation captured by the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), a nonprofit investigative organization. The disturbing footage captured by ARM depicts horses, cattle, sheep, goats, lamas, donkeys, ponies, pigs, dogs, cats and birds stockpiled on property grounds, resulting in the seepage of animal blood into the local ground water tables, thus violating public health codes, animal slaughter and disposal laws.

In 2011, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Enforcement Section and Special Investigation Division undertook an “extensive investigation” in response to complaints from ARM regarding the illegal slaughter and sale of horse meat. Included in this investigation was a visit to the Hernandez farm.  On October 24, 2012, the Sheriff's Office's visit to the Hernandez farm resulted in a report of no sale of horse meat and no mention of animal cruelty. Two months later, LCA SIU filmed the inhumane treatment of two pigs with at least 40 men, women and children (ranging from approximately four to fourteen years old), waiting in line for “fresh” meat.

Men, women and children waiting for "fresh" meat
Men, women and children waiting in line for "fresh" meat

Young children are often present at the gruesome slaughters

“Florida residents have good reason to be concerned about the illegal atrocities perpetrated by backyard butchers in their communities,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “ALDF’s lawsuit and Last Chance for Animal's investigation highlights the need for serious action to protect Florida’s animals and communities from shocking cruelty happening behind closed doors.”

LCA's Chris DeRose at Florida press conference on backyard slaughterLCA's Chris DeRose at Florida press conference on backyard slaughterIn addition, the animal byproducts produced by illegal slaughterhouses allow blood and other animal fluids to seep into the ground - polluting groundwater and potentially endangering public health.  The waste is disposed on-site, and many of these farms are surrounded by protected wetlands.  Purchasing meat from such farms also poses serious health risks for consumers, as there is no telling what they are exposed to by consuming meat from unregulated slaughterhouses.    

LCA’s CEO and Founder Chris DeRose held a press conference on Thursday, 1/31, at 3pm in downtown Tampa.  At the conference, DeRose discussed details of the investigation with the media, and answered questions.  The following week, the Sheriff's Office opened up a new investigation into the Hernandez Farm.   

Click here to sign the petition to Florida State Legislators, urging them to stop illegal butchering in their state.

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