Horsemeat Investigation Under Way in Florida

Police in Miami-Dade Florida are examining a vehicle to determine whether the meat found inside was derived from a horse.

The probe is the latest into a series of incidents involving the slaughter of horses for their meat. Since January 2009, the butchered remains of at least 22 horses have been found in Miami-Dade County. Two horses were also discovered dead and mutilated in a field in nearby Miramar, Fla., in May 2009.

In October, Miami-Dade police arrested two Miami men for allegedly selling horsemeat to an undercover police officer. Two others were arrested in connection with some of the killings in September. Those cases remain pending.

Earlier this month, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits the mutilation or killing of any horse and forbids the transport, distribution, sale, and purchase of horsemeat for human consumption. Violators could face felony mandatory minimum penalties of $3,500 in fines and one year in prison, and maximum penalties of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines for each offense. Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill into law on May 14. The measure goes into effect on July 1.

In this latest incident, police discovered the blood-smeared white van on May 26 after a tipster reported seeing it parked in a Miami-Dade neighborhood. Officers later found three coolers containing meat inside the vehicle.

"There is speculation that this could be horsemeat," said Miami-Dade Police Public Information Officer Det. Edna Hernandez. "But that will be confirmed once the USDA concludes its investigation and makes that determination."

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact CrimeStoppers at 305/471-8477 or 866/471-8477. A $20,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the horse poaching incidents still under investigation.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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