When Jesus Navarro was arrested for selling $1,350 horsemeat to undercover cops, it didn't seem to make much of an impact. Other men might have taken pause after a 2010 police report described their work environment as full of "rotting food and putrid water" and co-workers as "three dead goats in various stages of decay." Not Navarro.
Instead of going above-board, police say Navarro boldly moved to another illegal enterprise about five miles down the road. On Tuesday, he became is the latest of four men arrested in a slaughterhouse raid on VIP Animal Sales, located at the 25000 block of Southwest 177th Avenue in Homestead.
The Miami Beach-based Animal Rescue Mission spearheaded the undercover investigations that also led to felony charges of animal cruelty against Andre P. Martinez, Juan Bazan and Daniel Lombana. About 75 animals, including horses, pigeons, chickens and rabbits, were recovered, according to police warrants.
Court records show that this isn't Navarro's first rumble with the meat police, though. Had he been convicted of selling the horsemeat back in 2010, he would would spent at least year in jail under the Ivonne Rodriguez Horse Protection Act, which passed just a few months before his arrest.
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But for reasons that aren't clear in the files, the charges against Navarro, who is 51, were dropped back in 2010. Records point to conflicting reports in the affidavit and incident report, one of which states that Navarro pocketed the money for the horsemeat while the other pins it on co-defendent Orestes Gonzales. A charge of nuisance injurious to health and five counts of unlawful disposal of an animal carcass were also not pursued.
Parenza Farms, another illegal slaughterhouse located on Southwest 184th St., was raided within the same week as VIP Animal Sales.
Navarro now faces one felony count of animal cruelty.