Florida

They stabbed pigs in the heart on his orders. He's the one looking at federal prison

Pork chops.
Pork chops. Miami Herald

A Florida man could go to federal prison for running a slaughterhouse with an inhumane way of saying, "That's all, folks," to its pigs.

El Milagro Nursery President Victor Gonzalez, the 53-year-old who directed the slaughtering, pleaded guilty to one count of inhumane slaughter. Federal authorities didn't need to coax witnesses against Gonzalez or hit El Milagro's Loxahatchee facility with search warrants to gather evidence for this case.

Everything happened in front of federal officers during an inspection of the slaughterhouse.

Despite the finality of the pig pen to plate path, governing rules exist. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act states animals must be "rendered insensible to pain ... prior to the animal being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut," according to court documents.

On Dec. 17, 2016, as federal inspectors toured the facility, they saw how the employees killed the pigs.

Gonzalez's admission of guilt reads, "Lacking proper, operable equipment to stun or otherwise render the stock insensible to pain as required by law, the employees would simply restrain the animal and stab it in the heart with a large knife and leave the animal to bleed out on the floor of the slaughter area."

The pigs were picked by customers, at a cost of $300 per pig with a $50 "processing fee."

"Thereafter, each pig was killed by a stab to the heart, and after being processed for customers was placed in their vehicles," the admission of guilt says.

The buck, the pig and the charges stop with Gonzalez, El Milagro's founder in 2003. He faces up to three years and a $250,000 fine at his Aug. 27 sentencing, but has no prior convictions.

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