Investigators arrived at the auction at 2:00pm. They immediately noticed that the sale was not very busy, half the pens were empty and only two of the large “loose” horse pens were occupied. The condition of many of the horses inside the pen area again was poor.
There was a group of Paint horses, that appeared to have been brought in together. All of them had the same fresh, bleeding injuries on their hind legs and halter burn on their faces. Several in the same group were emaciated. Inside a pen in the middle of the barn, a bay horse with tag # 5300 had a severely infected eye injury.
In the back of the parking lot, investigators spotted the pick-up truck and stock trailer of former kill buyer David Merrell. Merrell used to ship to the Carnicos de Jerez plant in Mexico via the Presidio export pens. While he is no longer actively shipping, he is still transporting and supplying horses to other kill buyers as well as selling horses at the Knoxville auction.
Kill buyer Jason Sexton arrived at 3pm and immediately backed his semi and single deck trailer up to the loading ramp. Taking a closer look at the trailer, investigators noticed that there were several sharp-edged holes in the trailer walls, putting the horses inside at serious risk of obtaining gruesome leg injuries. According to the Commercial Equines to Slaughter Regulation Sec. 88.3 (a) (1), the trailer has to be maintained in a manner that at all times protects the health and well-being of the equines being transported.
The horse sale started late at 4:30pm. As expected, Sexton purchased most of the loose horses. Public documents indicate that Sexton ships on average 150 horses a month to Mexico for slaughter via the Benavides export pen in Eagle Pass, TX. The trip to the Texas border is 1260 mile long and it takes a tractor trailer approx. 20 hours to get there. Considering the poor condition of his trailer and the fact that he often packs 38-40 horses inside, one can only imagine how many horses die or obtain serious injuries en route.
Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor this sale and the kill buyers attending it and report all observed violations to the proper authorities.