News and Press Releases

OPERATOR OF HIALEAH SLAUGHTER HOUSE SENTENCED FOR FOOD SAFETY AND HUMANE SLAUGHTER VIOLATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 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 sentenced today as a result of his conviction for having engaged 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 7, United States Code, Section 1902(a), the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), as amended, and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 601(m)(4), 610(b), (c)(1)-(2), and 676(a).

United States District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard, who had earlier accepted the guilty pleas by Curbelo, sentenced Curbelo to two years of probation and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service. Judge Leonard also barred Curbelo for the duration of his probation from any employment at any ranch, farm, or slaughtering facility. The Court did not impose a fine in the case, having determined that Curbelo did not have the resources to pay a fine.

According to the Indictment, statements in Court, and exhibits presented in the matter, Curbelo was the manager responsible for the day to day operations of Danilo Ranch, a business on N.W. 97th Avenue, in Hialeah, Florida. The defendant, and others acting under his direction, engaged in the commercial slaughter, processing, handling, storing, and selling of meat and meat food products, specifically swine, for human consumption. Specifically, Curbelo was charged with knowingly distributing and attempting to distribute swine capable of use as human food in June 2010, which had been prepared, packed, and held under unsanitary conditions possibly harmful to health. The same meat products were also placed into commerce without first being inspected and passed as required by the FMIA.

Curbelo admitted during his plea hearing that in June 2010, he 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. 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).

During the sentencing hearing, the government introduced into evidence photographs of the Danilo Ranch facility, depicting the baseball bat used to bludgeon the swine to death, the unsanitary and hazardous conditions of the area used to slaughter animals, and other related health risks such as a decomposing rat in the vicinity of the site.

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 case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald of the Economic & Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Attorney’s Office.

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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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