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| Crime |

Meet the Illegal Hialeah Butchers Who Killed Hogs With Hammers and Sawed the Heads off Live Cows

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If you watched the video we posted Saturday of a hog being slaughtered in incredibly brutal fashion, these are the three fellows you should thank for putting you off your lechón forever.

Fifty-seven-year-old Rudesindo "Rudy" Acosta, 43-year-old Javier Estevanez, and 24-year-old Luis Cardoza were booked Saturday by Hialeah police after a local animal rights activist turned over undercover footage of animals being inhumanely slaughtered on an illegal farm.

Two 14-year-old "butchers" were also arrested and released to their parents, according to Eddie Rodriguez of the Hialeah Police Department.

Richard "Kudo" Couto -- the activist responsible for shutting down the nearby C-9 Basin, a hotbed of illegal slaughter -- secretly stalked the farm and made several tapes of animals being killed. Besides the footage we posted, which showed a screaming hog being stabbed and bludgeoned by Cardoza in a filthy, blood-soaked pen, another tape showed a cow's head slowly being sawed off in order to collect blood for black sausage.

According to Couto, horses and ponies -- among myriad other farm animals -- were slaughtered on the farm.

Acosta appears to have run the farm, although it's tough to call him the operation's owner because it was completely unlicensed and he was apparently squatting on land owned by the City of Hialeah.

His underlings have criminal histories in Miami-Dade County. Estevanez was charged with false imprisonment and battery in 2005; both charges were eventually dropped. In 2007, Cardoza was convicted of burglary and grand theft.

Cardoza and the two minors were Acosta's godchildren, according to police spokesman Rodriguez.

An estimated 600 animals were rescued from the farm. "Of all those animals, some were euthanized on the scene because they were in that bad condition," Rodriguez says. "Some of them have died on their way to the rescue locations. We're working on a new head count of the surviving animals."

Acosta faces 47 charges, including three animal cruelty felonies stemming from Couto's footage. Cardoza has been charged with four felony counts. Estevanez faces two felonies.

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