To further investigate the effects of the EU ban of Mexican horse meat imports, Animals’ Angels sent an investigative team to Mexico to visit several of the horse slaughter plants previously approved by the EU Commission.
CARNICOS DE JEREZ S.A. DE C.V., is located in Jerez, Zacatecas, and was approved to ship horse meat for human consumption to the EU prior to the ban with EU approval # E-33. This plant is linked to Belgium importer VISSER & VAN WALSUM, B.V.
From our previous investigations and research, we know that the following US Suppliers used to ship horses to this plant:
- Mike McBarron, Forney, TX
- Mc Daniels & Sons, Brookston, TX
- Dennis Chavez, Los Lunas, NM
- Dorian Ayache, Lebanon, TN
- John Sanders, Marland, OK
- Terry Saulters, Waco, TX
- Mitch Stanley, Hamburg, AK
- El Retiro Livestock, Eagle Pass, TX
Mexican horse meat export documents show that exports from the Jerez plant to other countries have decreased dramatically. The Jerez plant used to ship on average 16 shipments per month to Visser & Van Walsum. Records now show that the last shipments to Visser & Van Valsum were on January 15, 2015 and that since then their market apparently has shifted to Russia. However, they have only exported 5 shipments total since February 2015.
Unfortunately, documents obtained from the Texas Department of Agriculture reveal that the plant still receives US horses and donkeys from TX kill buyers Mike McBarron and El Retiro Livestock.
The investigation at the plant itself revealed the following: The layout of this particular location provides for limited surveillance. The front building and entrance has high-tech surveillance cameras and mirrored windows and is surrounded by a tall brick wall. However, our investigators were able to gain enough access to take video and photographs of the pens and holding areas inside. The first thing they noticed was that there is a large section of the plant apparently now abandoned and no longer used as it is clearly overgrown and neglected with the buildings completely boarded up.
On 5/15/15, our team arrived at the Carnicos de Jerez plant at 9:45 a.m. When a livestock trailer was observed entering the front gate of the facility at 10:08 a.m., our investigators approached the main gate to observe the activity. At this time, a second livestock trailer arrived at the facility. While the first truck went through the “check-in” process at the front gate, the second truck sat waiting close to our team’s location, giving our investigators time to determine that there were in fact horses inside. The truck displayed U.S. DOT #2188748, which is linked to the plant’s own trucking company.
At 10:20 a.m., AA investigators went to the area where the holding pens could be viewed. Investigators observed horses mixed in with cattle and were also able to photograph some horses that appeared to be very thin. Green USDA slaughter tags could still be seen attached to many of the horses. After documenting the pens and the animals held inside, the investigators returned to the main gate.
No further activity was seen throughout the day. The plant personnel began to leave at 5:00 p.m. Investigators remained until 5:30 p.m., and then left the area.
Our investigators returned to the Carnicos de Jerez plant on 5/19/15 at 3:40 p.m. after spending part of the morning documenting conditions at the Inter Meats Plant in Aguascalientes. After confirming no activity at the plant’s gate, they checked the holding pens again to observe the animals. It was noted that the number of horses present was considerably low compared to the visit on 5/15/15.
After documenting the animals in the pens, investigators returned to the front gate to observe any activity that might occur. Investigators remained onsite until 6:00 p.m., but there was absolutely no activity other than employees going to and from lunch and then exiting for the day.
Investigators returned to the Jerez plant on 5/20/15 at 8:00 a.m. No livestock trucks were observed arriving, and in fact there was no activity throughout the morning. In the holding pens now donkeys were present, mixed in with horses and cattle. Investigators returned to their original position at the front gate to observe any livestock trucks that might arrive as well as any other activity. Nothing further was observed.
Employees of the plant began to leave as usual at 5:00 p.m. Our team remained at the plant until later that night. No livestock trucks were observed entering the plant while our investigators were onsite.
Our observations confirm what the export paperwork shows. While they continue to receive a mixture of horses, donkeys and cattle, it appears the plant is struggling. Five shipments in four months-time as compared to an average of 16 shipments or more each and every month is a staggering decline in production for the European and Russian importers. However, it appears that the plant has found new buyers for their horse meat, potentially in the local market. Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor the situation until we have more answers.