The privately owned export pens in Presidio, TX are one of the three remaining locations at the Southern border from where US horses are shipped to slaughter in Mexico.
Prior to exportation, the horses are inspected by Mexico’s National Service of Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and their fitness to travel is evaluated. Horses that are rejected by the Mexican authorities are refused entry and have to remain in the export pens until they are picked up again by their US shipper. Common reasons for rejection are injuries, emaciation, apparent sickness or the presence of ticks. The Mexican authorities also don’t allow the shipment of any stallions.
Once a horse is labeled a “reject”, it loses all value and becomes a financial burden for the kill buyer, which often causes the animal’s already minimum care to further decline. Multiple of our investigations at the Presidio pens have documented “rejects” in horrible condition, starving and with untreated injuries.
Upon arrival at the location in Presidio it immediately became apparent that only one of the three pens appeared to be active. The Alvarado pens were in a state of disrepair, the roof of the building had caved in and the entire property was covered in trash. There were no animals present. The Baeza pens also appeared very dilapidated, with broken fencing and abandoned transport trailers parked inside the lot. There was no activity during the entire time of the observation. One horse and one cow were present inside the pens, but it is not clear if these were someone’s personal animals or had been brought to the pens for export.
At the J & R Horse Company pen, there were approx. 40 horses inside the pen area and most of them had USDA slaughter tags attached to them. Several of them were thin, with their ribs clearly showing. A few had smaller injuries on their legs, most likely obtained during transport.
Overall, the impact of the EU ban of Mexican horse meat and the general decrease in demand for the meat were clearly visible. During previous visits to the Presidio export facilities, at least five US trucks per day were observed delivering horses and between four and six loads of horses were exported to Mexico. During the recent three-day investigation, only one US truck was observed delivering horses and not a single Mexican truck arrived to export horses to Mexico.