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OPERATOR OF HIALEAH SLAUGHTER HOUSE ARRESTED CHARGED FOR FOOD SAFETY AND HUMANE SLAUGHTER VIOLATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2011

Wifredo A, Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Larry Hortert, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), announced that Mauret Curbelo, 37, of Hialeah, Florida, was arrested today on a warrant issued as a result of his indictment by a federal Grand Jury in Miami for having engaged in the inhumane slaughter of swine, the sale of uninspected and adulterated swine meat for human consumption, and false statements to federal compliance officers, in violation of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), Title 71, United States Code, Section 1902(a), the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), as amended, Title 21, United States Code, Sections 601(m)(4), 610(b), (c)(1)-(2), and 676(a), and the False Statement Act, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2). Curbelo is scheduled to make his first appearance on the charges in federal Magistrate’s Court at 2:00 p.m., April 21, 2011, at the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, 99 N.E. 4th Street, Miami.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard. If convicted on the charges, Curbelo faces a possible term of imprisonment of up to three years on each of the three charges related to the HMSA and FMIA violations and up to five years’ imprisonment on the charge of making the false statements to the investigators. Additionally, Curbelo could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000 as to each of the four counts and may be placed on a term of supervised release of up to three years.

According to the indictment, Curbelo was the manager responsible for the day-to-day operations of Danilo Ranch, an unincorporated enterprise on N.W. 97th Avenue, in Hialeah, Florida. At that location, the defendant engaged in the commercial slaughter, processing, handling, storing, and selling of meat and meat food products, instead swine, for human consumption. Specifically, Curbelo is charged with knowingly distributing and attempting to distribute in June 2010 swine capable of use as human food, which had been prepared, packed, and held under unsanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated and been rendered harmful to health. The same meat products were also placed into commerce without first being inspected and approved, as required by the FMIA.

The indictment further charges that in June 2010, Curbelo knowingly slaughtered and handled in connection with slaughter, swine, without first rendering the swine insensible to pain. The HMSA established as the public policy of the United States that the slaughtering or handling for slaughter of livestock, including swine, may only be carried out by humane methods. Accordingly, the law requires that such animals be rendered insensible to pain by one of the methods described in the HMSA, prior to the animal being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut. Title 7, United States Code, Sections 1901-1902(a).

The false statement charge in count 4 of the indictment relates to an incident on March 13, 2010, in which Curbelo stated to a Compliance Investigator of the USDA’s FSIS that he only slaughtered swine for his personal use, when in truth he slaughtered and directed the slaughter of numerous swine sold to customers.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Compliance Officers of the USDA FSIS, Office of Program Evaluation, Enforcement and Review, Compliance & Investigations Division and Evaluation and Enforcement Division and further expressed appreciation for the assistance rendered by the Hialeah - United States Marshal’s Service Florida Fugitive Task Force in effecting the arrest in this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Attachments:
Indictment (PDF)

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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