Gaze Into the (Slightly Pathetic) Eyes of an Alleged Horse Butcher

To squash a common misconception, the rash of illegal horse slaughter in South Florida is not the work of some sophisticated mafia. The horse killers- who have been doing their thing for years before the media took notice -- are rarely connected to each other, and they're usually just opportunistic farmers trying to make an extra buck. Like 53-year-old Roberto Aguedo Chavez and 45-year-old Ricardo Olivarez, who allegedly had the misfortune of selling ten pounds of frozen horse meat to an undercover detective in October.

Chavez and his assistant Olivarez lived together in a horse stable located on a farm at 19890 SW 180th Street. The accommodations were "crappy", in the words of a detective involved. Chavez' mother lived in a nearby trailer.

An informant told Miami-Dade cops that the cronies were peddling horse meat. A detective showed up and allegedly paid Chavez fifty bucks for a black plastic bag full of the stuff. Hence the photos of them cuffed in chairs, which come straight from the personal iPhone of a cop who was on the scene. In a freezer, investigators found an additional 240 pounds of horse meat.

The pair have both been in cuffs before. Olivarez has been nabbed for trespassing and having an open container of booze in a vehicle. At the time of the horse meat sting, Chavez was on probation for the not-at-all-creepy charge of battery on the elderly. He was charged with violating probation and spent three weeks in jail.

Olivarez was charged with unlawful sale of horse meat, a misdemeanor. Cops allowed the assistant to remain a free man so he could care for the farm animals and his boss' mother.

The charges aren't especially serious because cops can't prove that they slaughtered a horse. Chavez claimed that his horse died of colic and they were planning on eating it themselves, says a detective. When the undercover agent showed up offering cash, how could the poor farmers resist?

The detective isn't buying it: "Our source told us that these guys are running a horse meat operation."

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Gus Garcia-Roberts