News and Press Releases

OPERATOR OF HIALEAH SLAUGHTER HOUSE PLEADS GUILTY TO FOOD SAFETY AND HUMANE SLAUGHTER VIOLATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2011

Wifredo A, Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Larry S. Hortert, Regional Director, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety & Inspection Service, announced that Mauret Curbelo, 37, of Hialeah, Florida, pled guilty yesterday in federal court to charges stemming from his involvement in the inhumane slaughter of swine and the sale of uninspected and adulterated swine meat for human consumption, in violation of the humane methods of slaughter act (HMSA), Title 71, United States Code, Section 1902(a) and 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).

Mauret Curbelo entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard, who scheduled sentencing for August 29, 2011, at 4:30 p.m.. Curbelo faces a possible term of imprisonment of up to three years on each of the two counts, a fine of up to $250,000 per count, and a term of supervised release of up to one year per count.

According to a Factual Statement and other court records, Curbelo worked as the manager of Danilo Ranch, located on N.W. 97th Avenue, in Hialeah. Curbelo was responsible for the day to day management and oversight of the ranch activities, and engaged in the slaughtering, processing, handling, storing, and selling of meat and meat food products for human consumption, including swine. Curbelo admitted to knowingly distributing and attempting to distribute swine capable of use as human food in June 2010, without the swine first being inspected as required by the FMIA.

Mauret Curbelo also admitted that on June 26, 2010, he directed the sale of a live pig to investigators in a USDA undercover investigation into the inhumane slaughter and uninspected distribution of meat and meat products for human consumption from the Danilo Ranch. The pig was dragged from a pen holding multiple animals by its rear legs and then slaughtered with a large knife into the chest, with no prior steps taken to render the animal insensible to pain. The animal was then left to die by exsanguination. Curbelo admitted his involvement in the slaughter and handling of this swine. 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. 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).

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 further expressed appreciation for the assistance rendered by the Hialeah - United States Marshall’s Service Florida Fugitive Task Force in effecting the arrest in this case. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

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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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