Guilty Plea Entered in Florida Horse Poaching Case

A Florida man accused of poaching two horses then butchering them for their meat pleaded guilty to the charges against him during an appearance in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Nov. 17.

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 stable, apparently butchered for its meat. He later confessed to taking part in a similar killing in Miami Gardens. The killings were two among 20 similar 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.

Both 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. The charges carry penalties of up to life in prison.

Miami-Dade State's Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith, said Cabrera appeared in court on Wednesday for a hearing to determine whether he was competent to stand trial on the charges.

"When the court ruled Cabrera competent, he pleaded guilty to the charges," Griffith said.

Sentencing in the case is slated for Dec. 17. Cabrera's attorney Juan de Jesus Gonzalez said that during those proceedings he will present mitigating evidence on Cabrera's behalf.

"This case would never have come to light if not for Santiago Cabrera's actions," Gonzalez said. "He's extremely remorseful."

Meanwhile, Luis Miguel Cordero is slated to go to trial on the charges against him on Jan. 31, 2011. His attorney Zena X. Duncan declined comment on Cabrera's plea or on Cordero's case.

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