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Photo by Ian Witlen
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Richard "Kudo" Couto
A few years ago, local real estate agent Richard Couto adopted a Rambo-esque nickname: "Kudo." He began driving his Range Rover into what's known as the C-9 Basin, an unincorporated area of Northwest Miami-Dade County notorious for unlicensed slaughterhouses and a horse meat black market. He filmed undercover video of animals being slaughtered. He broke into the farms at night and catalogued their inventory, and once even stole a doomed baby pig he renamed "Oreo." He carried two cocked and loaded handguns and wore a flak jacket. He was doing what local cops and politicians -- who by all accounts knew about the illegal slaughterhouses -- were too apathetic or corrupt to tackle themselves. Kudo has been called crazy, but he's really just brave and effective. Through compiling a huge amount of undeniable evidence, he bypassed local police departments and went to state attorneys, who sparked a raid that dismantled the entire C-9 Basin. Now cops have no choice but to work with him. His horse slaughter investigations have led to stronger laws statewide. His undercover videos of hogs and cows being brutally slaughtered have netted felony prosecutions. These days, Couto has ditched the Range Rover for a more utilitarian pickup truck, tricked out with SWAT-level surveillance and commando gear. He's Bruce Wayne for South Florida's hoofed citizenry.