Operator of Unlicensed Slaughter House Pleads Guilty to Distributing Adulterated Food Products
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 Angel Ramirez Busurot, 46, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty today in federal court to charges stemming from his involvement in the slaughter of swine and the sale of uninspected and adulterated swine meat for human consumption, in violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), as amended, Title 21, United States Code, Sections 610(c)(2) and 676(a).
Busurot entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard, who scheduled sentencing for February 4, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. Busurot faces a possible term of imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to one year.
According to a Factual Statement filed with the court and other court records, Busurot, along with co-defendant Gelio Hernandez, who previously pled guilty on October 10, 2012, co-owned and operated an unlicensed slaughtering facility on the property of an unincorporated business in Miami known as Finca El Novillo, located on N.W. 122ND Avenue. Busurot, along with the co-owner Hernandez, was responsible for the day to day management and oversight of the business activities, and engaged in the slaughtering, processing, handling, storing, and selling of meat and meat food products for human consumption, including swine and goats. Busurot admitted in Court to knowingly distributing and attempting to distribute swine capable of use as human food in November 2011, without the swine first being inspected as required by the FMIA.
Busurot and Hernandez both admitted that they engaged in 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 Finca El Novillo location, a property owned by Hernandez. The pig was taken from a pen holding multiple animals and then administered an electric shock with a home-made device that failed to render the animal insensate, as required by law, before the slaughtering of animals for sale in commerce. Thereafter, the pig was slaughtered by use of a large knife that was thrust into its neck, with no other steps having been taken render the animal insensible to pain. Witnesses to the event observed the animal thrashing and vocalizing during the process as it died by exsanguination. Busurot 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. The FMIA, to which Busurot entered his guilty plea, requires that meat food products, capable of use as human food, be prepared, packed, and held under sanitary conditions if the products are to be distributed in commerce, in order to protect the consuming public from possible health hazards associated with contamination of the product. Despite being personally warned by Compliance Officers of the USDA FSIS, regarding the requirements of the applicable laws and that the pigs and goats being slaughtered at the facility were subject to mandatory inspection by USDA before sale, the co-defendants persisted in their illegal conduct and subsequently engaged in the sales activity leading to the charges against them.
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 and the Miami-Dade Police Department South Regional Agricultural Patrol Section. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
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.