Horse News

Audio: NM Horse Slaughter Plant Faces More Hurdles

Source: Public News

Legal action against a prospective horse slaughterhouse in Roswell NM alleges that its waste violates the Clean Water Act.
Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

ROSWELL, N.M. – New Mexico’s Valley Meat Co. has another obstacle in its path to becoming a horse slaughterhouse.

A Larkspur, Colo., group, Front Range Equine Rescue, has notified the Roswell company and two federal agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – of its intent to sue for violation of the Clean Water Act.

Bruce Wagman, a partner at Schiff Hardin, a law firm representing Front Range Equine Rescue, said this issue goes back at least five years.

“This is about the failure to obtain a permit for discharge of contaminants from storm water,” he said. “It’s an ongoing violation because, as far as we know, they had a Grant of Inspection for cow slaughter all those years and were in violation of the Clean Water Act every day they were doing it.”

A USDA Grant of Inspection is required before meat from a slaughterhouse can be sold. Wagman said the agency doesn’t necessarily look at Clean Water Act issues when it decides on this document, so it is possible to be approved for business without being in compliance.

Valley Meat’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, said the company will not be out of compliance by the end of the 60-day time period in the notice to sue.

While the suit alleges that Valley Meat hasn’t been in compliance with the Act, Wagman said, it is not known whether it has polluted water in the area. The waterways most likely to be affected, he said, are the Spring River Canal and the Pecos River – a place where people fish and swim.

“The Pecos River runs near Valley Meat and communicates with underground channels that go through nearby lakes and streams in New Mexico,” he said.

Tracy Hughes, an environmental attorney with High Desert Energy and Environment Law Partners in Santa Fe, explained what can be found in storm water runoff.

“In industrial facilities, it’s anything that a company may put in their parking lot or in their yard that may be stored outside,” she said. “Then the precipitation falls on it, and that becomes runoff, and it can be oil and antifreeze, anything that leaks out of your car.”

Getting the necessary permit to comply with the Clean Water Act would not be a lengthy process, Hughes said. However, if Valley Meat Co. is considered a “new source” because of its lack of a previous permit, she said, there would be a public notice and 30 days for public comment.

A report on developing a New Mexico stormwater pollution plan is online at

Renee Blake, Public News Service – NM

31 replies »

  1. Any arrow in the quiver…whatever weapons we have to stop this nincompoop is the order of the day. Sec. Vilsack has the biggest arsenal but for some reason is failing to use it. Santos lied about 2 felony convictions and committed a 3rd when he did. The Clean Water Act is serious business, the possible violation of the endangered species act is no small matter either not to mention his previous record of cruelty.

    So why is it Vilsack has suddenly stopped telling Congress this is not right and they need to find another solution other than slaughter and is now stating outright it’s going to happen? He has plenty of ammo to deny the permit so what’s up?

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s his way of holding Congress’ feet to the fire in an attempt to make them pass the S.A.F.E. Act sooner rather than later. After all Congress already has so much egg on their face for opposing a 90% public opinion on gun safety do they dare risk opposing an 80% disapproval of horse slaughter and transportation?

    We need to back up this action with continued phone calls and emails to Congress everyday until Rick de los Santos crawls back in his hole.



    • The way it was explained to me, is there worried about lawsuits since the current standing law allows for slaughter. NM, OK, & MO all have pending law suits. I agree with every pt you made, Steve. It is mind boggling that a convicted felon would be given the green light for slaughter when he has a history of compliance violations. Seems certain future compliance, cruelty, and certain violations will follow should Valley Meats be allowed to operate a slaughterhouse. Not only are 80% of Americans against horse slaughter, the people of NM don’t want it! Businesses are up in arms about it, state legislators are against it and Congress needs to listen! We put these so-called political geniuses in office and we can take them out also.

      We need the SAFE act passed into law without re-writing it like taking out verbage transporting our horses across borders to slaughter. That’s my next worry …. I totally agree with you that we need to stay vigilant calling & emailing our legislators for passage of the SAFE act and until de los Santos fades away! He’s been planning and preparing for horse slaughter for over a year and spent tens of thousands of dollars converting his slaughter plant for horses, Oh well, if he loses his fortune. He should have considered the ‘people’ before he took up with the likes of ‘donk’ and slaughterhouse Sue.


  2. Short of getting the SAFE Act passed, it’s going to take a miracle to stop this. I agree with Steve. We need to get our Congressmen humping to get the SAFE Act passed. And by the way, check me for accuracy, it is supposed to be voted on May 15th. Get busy people!!!


    • Face of evil criminal proudly holding his murder weapon. He just can’t wait to spill blood. How a repeat offender criminal can even get this close to opening another slaughterhouse, is truly a testament to corruption at all levels in the good ole US of A.


      • Dear LNorman, This is becoming unbearable , if i feel that way just think of the Innocent horses !!!!!!


  3. With all that’s been happening with this issue thus far, it’s hard to determine what someone is thinking and which plan of attack they will implement. There certainly has been blatant evidence that De Los Santos should have never been allowed to apply for federal funds to inspect this plant in the first place. Where is it in our law books that someone can have previous felony convictions, numerous violations in a previous business; with outstanding fines, and then have the gull to lie on said application (technically another felony), and be granted the right to open and begin operations. After watching a video presented at the 2013 Equine Summit concerning a previous meeting with Sec. Vilsack in which they stated their conclusions that he was an upstanding guy who doesn’t really want horse slaughter plants to open, we can hope he has a stategic alterior motive as to why he has decided not to act on his authority to deny the grant. There are so many webs being weaved here and games and strategies being played, who really knows what is going on underneath it all. Let’s just continue to do what we know and do best. Call and write our legislators and educate as many people as we can about the truth of horse slaughter and then pass the Safe Act.


  4. It is not up to the USDA to enforce the Clean Water Act. Someone has dropped the ball; most likely the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These are the controlling agencies who issue permits for NEPA. I’ve been saying this for years: there needs to be NEPA compliance and permits before these facilities can open. Violation of NEPA and the Clean Water Act is why they were closed across the U.S. back in 2007 — it wasn’t necessarily because of lack of USDA funding for inspections (although that was part of it). NEPA requires a full Environmental Impact Statement that includes water quality, traffic, air quality, and many other considerations before permits are in place — and it takes years. Who’s being paid off here?!


  5. Got a question, if this man has a feedlot for slaughter horses in Texas, doesn’t that break the law in Texas Against Horse Slaughter? He has stated in the press that he is holding and going to fatten animals in Texas for his plant in New Mexico. What can we do to push this issue!


    • The article by the way was printed on May 09 2013 Killing floor at heart of horse meat debate in ABQ Journal on ABQ folks any details that will throw this back out of the arena we need to source and utilize. Is there currently a law banning the horses from being contained for slaughter under Texas Law? The quicker we ascertain this, the quicker we can push this back.


  6. Ok, RT I asked an attorney who says laws in Texas won’t allow this feedlot and we need to pass this information on to any Rescue, or Organization, or Assistance Program that will help us to stop this in Texas. He suggested we turn it in to the Great State of Texas! My sister is beside herself trying to locate the lot and company he’s referring to in Texas! She is in Paint Horse Fury right now! She’s hollered at me on the phone! We have to get help! We cannot let this go on! She said a picture of a Paint, her breed, and a picture of an Appaloosa, my breed in a kill pen and she was furious!


    • Is anyone doing anything about this that you just mentioned? I wish I lived by there I would be driving all night and day?? What picture?? I hope someone has heard you that can assist??


    • The “Texas Humane Legislative Network” is the organization that can help you with this illegal feed lot issue, and the former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, Paula Bacon, is involved with this group.


  7. HI All, we are all furious!!! If you ever see their faces in that pen, they will be burned on your face and your heart forever! Illinois went thru the same when we closed Cavel, Intl. They took out all stops including bringing their appeal to the Supreme Court. Really?? I could not for the life of me see how this country could allow a foreign company to take advantage of our laws. The foreign companies are the culprits and until we find out who is footing the bill the bill, this will continue. We should all be in attack mode! The Litigation or passing of the SAFE bill is the only way to insure that this would not happen. Just if, this should happen every single person on this blog should get a ticket of some kind to protest the plant in New Mexico, just everyone!!!!


    • My guess about who is footing the bill is Chevideco, because they’re the ones who recruited Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis as their version of a “national marketing rep” to try to get investors to build horse slaughterhouses that they can lease. At least, that’s my understanding based on what I’ve read about it so far.


  8. I am wondering when Valley Meat sued USDA WHY was all the above not mentioned by USDA , I don’t know how the decision on that suit was worded, but we all know Valley Meat won, so maybe USDA HAS to do this I don’t know, that is what makes me angry as to why in their rebuttal they did not bring up you know past violations, felony charges ALL of it, makes ME wonder???

    I will call again this week I have not heard any reasonable letter back from my congress people other than ED WHITFIELD, which we all know is a hard pusher for horse slaughter to stop and has been fighting for the Mustangs…. But I will keep it up last time I called I said I would be calling every week until someone here’s ME and 80% of the American people…….

    I have also called and emailed my home state of Maine, We ALL will do all that we can even though it is SO LIMITIED, makes one feel so helpless, you know wish we could do more some how?? BUT I know the calls matter, I so pray this will be once and for all STOPED…….. Chin up everyone including myself, hehehe


    • Can we get the transcript of Valley Meat’s lawsuit against the FDA so we can try to figure out what happened? Where would we get that?


  9. “Valley Meat’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, said the company will not be out of compliance by the end of the 60-day time period in the notice to sue.”

    Yeah, right, I’ll believe that one when pigs fly,


    • So, if they get themselves in compliance, does that erase years of past violations? It was those mountains of maggot infested cow parts being washed into the water system every time it rained. Was there a spike in sickness or death from people exposed to the contaminated water during that time?


  10. There is three more reps that signed on to cosponsor H.R. 1094, but according to there has been no movement on S.541 as far as donations. It looks like this bill is being completely ignored by the senate because they know it can not be passed without them. There has been no cosponsors other than the original senators that wrote the bill and no sign of any donations to any of the Senators on S 541. This is worse than the last bill that died in committee.


    • Diane Feinstein always aggressively supports anti-slaughter bills, I read a 2008 letter in which she jumped all over the BLM demanding they not slaughter the 30,000 Wild Horses in their holding pens and encouraging them to accept Madeleine Pickens’ offer to buy them all. She supported the bill banning the slaughter of downer animals, and to stop the gov’t from slaughtering a bunch of elk that lived on an island. I heard she’s co=sponsoring the SAFE Act bill, but don’t see her name on the list yet. We should call her and encourage her to get on the list, if she’s co-sponsoring. Here’s the list so far: The bill is in that committee, and it’s the chair of that committee who decides if the bill moves forward or not, so we need to call all those committee members. Also, I think everyone’s been mostly concentrating on calling congressmen in the House, so the senators aren’t getting as many calls asking them to co-sponsor. I would think the senators would be more likely to co-sponsor the bill because they’ve got so many Democrats, and they’re usually into animal welfare.


  11. We r in illinois and i cant describe the horrors enough and my sister is in high gear in Texas fighting she was texted a picture of a feed lot and was told Texas then the article quoting Santos stating horses fattening up horses in Texas for slaughter daily. She blew up, she said this cant happen again!


  12. Update sue wallis is bragging that FSIS is on pro slaughter side and just wants to get this crap started ASAP


  13. Yet another drug that presents itself with absolutely No withdrawal period ever in horses. Devomycin which is streptomycin which is antibiotics commonly used in horses cowman argued with me til i showed him the verification of the difference in cattle vs horses. He then conceeded i was right. Look it up on and check out devomycin, its withdrawal for cattle is opposite in horses. I am just thinking Senators need to know we cant trust our food chain with this type of products in horses. Killer buyers and auctionhouses were cited when this product was found in horses being slaughtered. So ignorance is lethal in this industry. We have to educate Senators quickly.


  14. Here’s a bizarre question. We know Congress more than has their hands full. Some laws they couldn’t give a freak about. Others get their vote of approval. But let’s face it SAFE Act in all it’s complexities is difficult. You have slaughter itself. Transportation. Banned substances that sometimes in cattle do withdraw.

    Rather than stocking a wild horse advisory board with pro slaughter–how about a real upfront integrity driven board than can advise Congress. Both good (is there anything) and the bad. How about honest discussions on waste water and all the crap that Paula went through.

    I fear SenTors are once again playing games. You bring me my 10 billion bridge (that by the way TOTALLY ISNT NEEDED)a d I will get you votes on the SAFE Act.

    Washington politics aren’t about what’s best for the country. It’s about getting over. The health and well being of the public be damned.


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