Two men slaughter small animals outside while two others watch. Dozens of farm animals – goats, cows and horses – eating, walking or resting in makeshift corrals are just some of the scenes from a drone flown by the Humane Farming Association captured in April on a 6-acre property in the intersection of Julius and Monterey streets in San Lucas.
Gail Eisnitz, chief investigator for the Humane Farming Association, said the organization first received advice in January 2019 regarding suspected slaughterings and sales of uninspected meat, both violations of federal law. meat inspection. The LIMF is the federal law that guarantees that any meat product is cut and processed under sanitary conditions and 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 kill animals to eat them, for my family,” he says.
Eisnitz further says that an informant reports that butchers at the site do not follow the humane slaughter methods law and that cattle are slaughtered, strangled or stabbed. “A private investigator sat outside the operation and he heard goats screaming, then suddenly the silence became dead,” she says.
Eisnitz says the informant also saw sick animals at the scene.
But Mendez says he has a business of buying and selling cattle. “I buy lean animals. I deworm them and give them vitamins; once they get fat I take them back to the auction and sell them.
The Monterey County Resource Management Agency has been investigating the property since July 2019. Elizabeth Ruiz, Senior Code Compliance Inspector, discovered several violations, including a build-up of garbage, multiple unusable vehicles, detention of animals without proper permission and structures built without a permit. The RMA provided a list of corrective measures, but in an email on December 20, 2019, environmental health specialist Alvin Votran said Mendez was denied a permit for the use of the vegetable slaughter. – fruit and vegetable waste to feed the cattle – because the previous problems were ‘t fixed.
On December 11, 2019, the property was inspected again after the county received complaints of foul odors and illegal butchering. At the time of the inspection, Votran said he found only unauthorized vegetable crops.
On February 13, 2020, the Monterey County Building Inspection and Planning Department issued a stop-work notice to stop modifying the premises, removing previous violations and obtaining required permits. On February 21 of the same year, the county issued another administrative citation. The Monterey County Health Department has also launched an investigation.
Eisnitz finds the ongoing issues frustrating: “[County agencies] have known about this problem for two years and nothing has been done.