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Investigator: horses being slaughtered on Hillsborough County farms

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Investigator: horses being slaughtered on Hillsborough County farms

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Posted: Jun 12, 2012 10:01 PM EDT Updated: Aug 07, 2012 10:01 PM EDT

By: Cynthia Smoot, FOX 13 News - bio

TAMPA (FOX 13) -
Horses and other animals are being brutally slaughtered in Hillsborough County, according to a long-time investigator known for uncovering similar operations in south Florida.

Animal Recovery Mission investigator and activist Richard Couto says it's happening right under our noses, in a semi-rural area behind tidy subdivisions in the Citrus Park area.

Couto says the meat is sold on the black market, and he has documented on video the disturbing remains left behind.

Couto, who calls himself "Kudo," made a name for himself in south Florida, investigating the ongoing problem of horses being stolen and butchered for their meat.

"Kudo" says he' still working with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office to shut down illegal slaughter farms in what's known as the C-9 Basin area.

But now he says the problem of illegal horse slaughter and inhumane slaughter of all kinds of other animals is just as bad, or perhaps even worse, right here in Tampa Bay.

Acting on some tips, he first traveled to our area this time last June. He says he was shocked by what he found.

"Hillsborough County has a serious, serious problem with illegal horse meat being sold in your county. The amount of horses being killed on this one farm in Hillsborough County is epic. They're possibly slaughtering 15 to 20 horses a week," Kudo said.

Kudo says he has the video to prove it, and much of the video is graphic and disturbing:
?A pit full of bones and skeletons with a horse head clearly visible.
?What appears to be a pile of burned horse skulls.
?Muddy pens full of pigs with bones strewn everywhere.

Kudo is heard describing on video what he calls a common way of getting rid of what the killers don't use:

"This is the hog area. The horse carcasses are thrown in the hog area for the hogs to skulls everywhere...."

Kudo says he infiltrated six farms in the Citrus Park area, posing as a customer, and making six horsemeat buys over the past year. On some of the excursions, he was accompanied by an undercover USDA inspector.

Kudo says his first buy

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Public Comments (8)
Feb 1st, 2013
Someone from Elk Grove Village, IL signed.
Jan 20th, 2013
Someone from Hazel Green, AL signed.
Jan 7th, 2013
Someone from Livonia, MI writes:
Quotation mark icon
Dec 7th, 2012
Someone from Christiansburg, VA writes:
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This is unacceptable. Stop this, now.
Dec 6th, 2012
Someone from Houston, TX signed.
Dec 6th, 2012
Someone from Fountain, MI writes:
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so cruel and barbaric, this is absolutely not allowed!
Dec 5th, 2012
Someone from Pasadena, MD signed.
Dec 5th, 2012
Someone from Saint Petersburg, FL signed.