A Florida man will serve five years in prison for poaching two horses and butchering them for meat.
In September 2009 Miami-Dade County law enforcement authorities arrested Santiago Cabrera in connection with a July 2009 incident involving a horse discovered dead in a pasture near its stables, apparently butchered for its meat. Cabrera later confessed to taking part in a similar killing in Miami Gardens. The killings were two among 20 horse poaching incidents that took place in Miami-Dade County and Miramar, Fla., in 2009.
Miami-Dade County law enforcement authorities also arrested Luis Miguel Cordero in September 2009 as he attempted to poach two horses located in the pasture of a northwest Miami-Dade County ranch. Cordero later confessed to the Miami Gardens incident.
Cordero and Cabrera were later each charged with multiple felonies including killing a registered breed horse, armed burglary, and animal cruelty in connection with the killings.
Last month, Cabrera pleaded guilty to the charges against him. On Dec. 17 Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel handed down his sentence.
Cabrera's attorney, Juan de Jesus Gonzalez, who had argued that his client has diminished mental capacity, said the sentence was too harsh.
"Especially since he was 18-years-old at the time and since he is mentally retarded," Gonzalez said.
But Miami-Dade State's Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith said the sentence demonstrates that authorities are serious about prosecuting the poaching cases.
"This was the sentence we had sought from the very beginning," Griffith said. "It is representative of how seriously we take these cases since five years state prison is difficult to get for a first time offender."
Jeanette Jordan, president of the Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, expressed mixed emotions about the outcome of the Cabrera case.
"I suppose I should be happy that Cabrera's going to jail, but frankly there are no winners here," Jordan said. "Nothing can alter the fact that these poor beautiful creatures suffered brutal, gruesome deaths."
Luis Miguel Cordero is slated to go to trial on the charges against him on Jan. 31.
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