California Man Arrested in Missing Horses Case

A man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of a pair of Quarter Horses in Madera County, California.

Erica Stuart, public information officer for the Madera County Sheriff's Department, said the horses' owner reported that he placed the animals in the custody of Summer Tex of Madera, Calif., in August 2013; Tex is a brand inspector for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, she said. Stuart said Tex allegedly promised to place the 21-year old mare and the 26-year-old gelding in a program in Fresno County that pairs mature horses with young equids in order to keep young horses calm and to occupy older horses in their remaining years. The horses' owner reported that he telephoned Tex repeatedly about the horses' well-being, but got no answer, Stuart said. When Tex did answer, she allegedly told the owner that she had sold the animals, she said.

The Madera County Sheriff's Office subsequently issued a warrant for Tex's arrest on a charge of felony grand theft involving the horses, Stuart said. Tex was arrested on April 26 after turning herself in.

During the investigation, Stuart said, Agricultural Crimes Detective Adam McEwen allegedly followed a trail of paper receipts for the animals that led from Madera County, through Washington, and to Canada.

“Instead of going to Fresno County as promised, the mare (for sure) and the gelding (it is believed) were transported from Madera, California, and sold to the Florence Packing Company, an operational transfer station located in Stanwood, Wash.,” Stuart said. “The transfer of ownership took place on Sept. 12, 2013.”

The horses were then allegedly inspected and sold to Bouvry Exports, a horse processing plant in Alberta, Canada, Stuart said.

On May 20, Billy Ray Brown Jr. was arrested and charged with suspicion of transporting horses out-of-state for slaughter for human consumption, Stuart said. It is a felony in California for anyone to possess or export from the state any equid with the intent of killing that horse, or having another kill it if, if the transporter knows that any part of the horse will be used for human consumption.

Brown was subsequently booked into the Madera County Department of Corrections. If convicted, Brown could face up to three years in prison, Stuart said.

Brown was unavailable for comment.

The case against both Tex and Brown remains pending.

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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