Arrest in horse slaughter investigation - FOX 13 News

Arrest in horse slaughter investigation

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Authorities say they have made an arrest in a horse slaughter investigation we first told you about last June.

Jorge F. Ortega Jr., 26, was arrested on November 6. He is charged with the sale of horse meat for human consumption, according to an affidavit from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say he is the first person in the state to be charged under a state law enacted two years ago that makes buying and selling horse meat a felony.

Animal investigator Richard Couto, with Animal Recovery Mission, says he shot undercover video of transaction in February where Ortega was the seller. He says Ortega sold him and an undercover USDA agent 40 pounds of horsemeat.

According to the affidavit, the meat was taken to a lab where they tested it and confirmed it was horse meat.

"ARM targeted six illegal slaughter farms in Citrus Park in Hillsborough County well over a year ago," Couto explained. "And [Ortega] had his hand in many of those farms, as far as killing the animals and selling their meat."

Couto said the video is evidence of a major problem with the sale of illegal horse meat in Hillsborough County. He says he is happy about the arrest, but says the problem has not gone away.

"There are a lot of illegal slaughter farms in Hillsborough County, in the Citrus Park area, that need to be hit, closed and animals rescued. These are violent, violent places and nobody wants these properties as their neighbors," Couto said.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said they're glad to make the arrest and hope to see the case fully prosecuted. But the spokesman also said their own investigation did not find the horse meat problem to be as widespread as Couto maintains.

In any case, though, the sheriff's office says it hopes Ortega's arrest will serve as a warning.

Ortega was released on a $2,000 bond and is due back in court next week.

- PREVIOUS COVERAGE -

Investigator: horses being slaughtered on Hillsborough County farms
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/18772367/investigator-horses-being-slaughtered-on-hillsborough-county-farms

Witnesses describe horse slaughter farm
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/18911102/2012/06/28/witnesses-describe-horse-slaughter

Commissioners to consider crackdown on horse slaughter
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/18888767/2012/06/26/commissioners-to-consider-crackdown-on-horse-slaughter

Commissioner targets 'loophole' in horse slaughter law
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/18851701/2012/06/21/commisioner-targets-loophole-in-horse-slaughter-law

Commissioners see undercover horse video
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/18899865/2012/06/27/commissioners-see-undercover-video

 

Authorities say they have made an arrest in a horse slaughter investigation we first told you about last June.

 

Jorge Ortega, 26, was arrested on November 6. He is charged with the sale of horse meat for human consumption, according to an affidavit from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Investigators say he is the first person in the state to be charged under a state law enacted two years ago that makes buying and selling horse meat a felony.

Animal investigator Richard Couto, with Animal Recovery Mission, says he shot undercover video of transaction in February where Ortega was the seller. He says Ortega sold him and an undercover USDA agent 40 pounds of horsemeat.

According to the affidavit, the meat was taken to a lab where they tested it and confirmed it was horse meat.

"ARM targeted six illegal slaughter farms in Citrus Park in Hillsborough County well over a year ago," Couto explained. "And [Ortega] had his hand in many of those farms, as far as killing the animals and selling their meat."

Couto said the video is evidence of a major problem with the sale of illegal horse meat in Hillsborough County. He says he is happy about the arrest, but says the problem has not gone away.

"There are a lot of illegal slaughter farms in Hillsborough County, in the Citrus Park area, that need to be hit, closed and animals rescued. These are violent, violent places and nobody wants these properties as their neighbors," Couto said.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said they're glad to make the arrest and hope to see the case fully prosecuted. But the spokesman also said their own investigation did not  find the horse meat problem to be as widespread as Couto maintains. In any case, though, they say they hope Ortega's arrest will serve as a warning.

 

Ortega was released on a $2,000  bond and is due back in court next week.

Authorities say they have made an arrest in a horse slaughter investigation we first told you about last June.

Jorge Ortega, 26, was arrested on November 6. He is charged with the sale of horse meat for human consumption, according to an affidavit from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Investigators say he is the first person in the state to be charged under a state law enacted two years ago that makes buying and selling horse meat a felony.

Animal investigator Richard Couto, with Animal Recovery Mission, says he shot undercover video of transaction in February where Ortega was the seller. He says Ortega sold him and an undercover USDA agent 40 pounds of horsemeat.

According to the affidavit, the meat was taken to a lab where they tested it and confirmed it was horse meat.

"ARM targeted six illegal slaughter farms in Citrus Park in Hillsborough County well over a year ago," Couto explained. "And [Ortega] had his hand in many of those farms, as far as killing the animals and selling their meat."

Couto said the video is evidence of a major problem with the sale of illegal horse meat in Hillsborough County. He says he is happy about the arrest, but says the problem has not gone away.

"There are a lot of illegal slaughter farms in Hillsborough County, in the Citrus Park area, that need to be hit, closed and animals rescued. These are violent, violent places and nobody wants these properties as their neighbors," Couto said.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said they're glad to make the arrest and hope to see the case fully prosecuted. But the spokesman also said their own investigation did not find the horse meat problem to be as widespread as Couto maintains. In any case, though, they say they hope Ortega's arrest will serve as a warning.

Ortega was released on a $2,000 bond and is due back in court next week.

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