Two men clog small animals outdoors while two others watch. Dozens of farm animals – goats, cows and horses – eating, walking or resting in makeshift corrals are some of the scenes a drone piloted by the Humane Farming Association captured in April on a 6-acre property at the intersection of Julius and Monterey streets in San Lucas.
Gail Eisnitz, chief investigator for the Humane Farming Association, said the organization first learned in January 2019 of alleged uninspected slaughter parties and meat sales, both violations of federal farm law. meat inspection. The FMIA is the federal law that ensures that any meat product is slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions and is safe for human consumption. Eisnitz says that in some cases it is legal to slaughter animals this way if it is done when the animal is for the owner’s consumption and not for sale.
Mario Mendez, who rents the property from Manuel and Diana M. Rodriguez and owns the animals seen in the footage, says he slaughters animals for personal consumption and denies selling meat. “I slaughter animals to eat them, for my family,” he says.
Eisnitz further says that an informant reports that butchers at the site are not following the law on humane slaughter methods and that cattle are being slaughtered, strangled or stabbed. “We had a private detective sit outside the operation and he heard goats screaming, then suddenly everything went quiet,” she says.
Eisnitz says the informant also saw sick animals at the scene.
But Mendez says he has a cattle buying and selling business. “I buy lean animals. I deworm them and give them vitamins; once they get bigger, I bring them back to the auction and sell them.
The Monterey County Resource Management Agency has been investigating the property since July 2019. Elizabeth Ruiz, a senior code compliance inspector, found multiple violations including an accumulation of trash, multiple inoperable vehicles, custody of animals without proper approvals and structures built without permits. The RMA provided a list of corrective actions, but in a December 20, 2019 email, environmental health specialist Alvin Votran said Mendez was denied a permit for the use of vegetable waste – fruit and vegetable waste to feed livestock – because the previous problems were not. t fixed.
On December 11, 2019, the property was inspected again after the county received complaints of foul odors and illegal butchery. At the time of the inspection, Votran said it found only unauthorized vegetable waste.
On February 13, 2020, the Monterey County Planning and Building Inspection Department issued a stop work notice to cease altering the premises, eliminate previous violations, and obtain required permits. On February 21 of the same year, the county issued another administrative citation. The Monterey County Health Department also has an open investigation.
Eisnitz finds the ongoing issues frustrating: “[County agencies] I have been aware of this problem for two years and nothing has been done.