18 min read

Nation's Largest Horse Slaughter Operation Exposed

<p><a href="http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs161/1101655399670/archive/1124197993235.html" target="_blank">Animals' Angels, Inc.</a></p>

Mike McBarron is a long-standing slaughter horse buyer and horse trader based out of Forney, TX. Having been active as a kill buyer for decades, McBarron has a lengthy history of violating the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulations. He has expanded his operations such that he now has a vast network of kill buyers and horse traders under his command frequenting auctions nationwide on his behalf.

Animals' Angels has spent the last 2 years documenting his empire and learning more about his business in order to gather the evidence necessary to hold him accountable for his illicit activities. The results show that Mike McBarron runs a multi-million dollar operation while at the same time violating animal protection as well as environmental laws.

A Little History

When McBarron first came on the scene, he was originally in partnership with Trent Ward as T&M Horse Company. Later, he started to work with Mitch Stanley from Hamburg, AR and subsequently formed M & M Livestock.

The Stanley Brothers, who are by far McBarron's most frequent shipper and easily the highest paid, have themselves been investigated by Animals' Angels on a number of occasions. Like McBarron, the Stanley Brothers have been shipping horses to slaughter for quite some time and also have a long history of animal welfare offenses, among other questionable activities.

Mike McBarron has gone from humble beginnings to one of the largest kill buyers in the country and now has horse traders in multiple states that ensure he is able to provide thousands of horses to the Mexican slaughter plants on a regular basis. Additionally, McBarron has teamed up with a broker program, which also sells dozens of his horses (slaughter rejects and those he likely purchases solely for the program) each month to significantly increase his bottom line.

A Look Into McBarron's Operations

Records show that in 2014 Mike McBarron shipped between 933 and 5284 horses, mules and donkeys per month to Mexico for slaughter through the Eagle Pass export pen alone.

After the EU ban of Mexican horsemeat imports, McBarron's exports declined drastically.

The amount of money involved is beyond substantial: According to an invoice from the Carnicos de Jerez plant for horse deliveries between January and March of 2014, payments to McBarron for this three month period totaled $1,988,683.02.

Export documents obtained by AA show that between 164 and 465 of McBarron's horses each month are rejected by the Mexican veterinarian at the border and therefore cannot be exported to Mexico. Rejected horses are returned with the shipper and exposed to an uncertain fate. Many of them are shipped to the border multiple times, until they finally are accepted. Others simply die in the pen area or are sold via the kill buyer's broker program.

Besides the Stanley Brothers, McBarron works with the following kill buyers and horse traders to obtain the required horses for his slaughter business, many of whom have their own history of violating animal welfare laws and regulations:

  • Joe Simon, Perkins, OK
  • Trent Ward, Kaufman, TX
  • Jason Fabrizius, Eaton, CO
  • Randy Ray, Murray, KY
  • Blake Wilf, Romance, AR
  • Terry Brooke, Jonesburg, MO
  • Jim Wine, Chico, TX
  • Jody Ringelstein, San Antonio, TX
  • Rick Thomas, TX
  • Terry Saulters, Waco, TX
  • Clint Smith, Wister, OK
  • David Harville, Bivins, TX
  • Joe Western, TX
  • John Birdsong, Carrolton, GA
  • Joe Simon, Perkins, OK
  • Trent Ward, Kaufman, TX
  • Jason Fabrizius, Eaton, CO
  • Randy Ray, Murray, KY
  • Blake Wilf, Romance, AR
  • Terry Brooke, Jonesburg, MO
  • Jim Wine, Chico, TX
  • Jody Ringelstein, San Antonio, TX
  • Rick Thomas, TX
  • Terry Saulters, Waco, TX
  • Clint Smith, Wister, OK
  • David Harville, Bivins, TX
  • Joe Western, TX
  • John Birdsong, Carrolton, GA

These individuals buy horses on behalf of McBarron at auctions nationwide and then, according to paperwork Animals' Angels has received, once a load is prepared for shipment, the buyers simply email McBarron all of the information regarding the horses such as color, breed, sex, age, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) slaughter tag and microchip number.

McBarron then uses this information to fill out the USDA Form 10-13 and the International Health Certificate, which are needed to export horses to Mexico for slaughter.

On all of these forms, McBarron lists himself as the owner/shipper and reports that the horses were loaded and inspected in Forney, TX - even if the horses apparently shipped straight to the export pens from the affiliated kill buyer's lot in another state.

McBarron runs a tight ship and as such, he seems to be the only person in contact with the slaughter plant. He bills the plant for the delivery, and once payment is received, he pays the kill buyer who carried out the shipment. Prior to shipment, he notifies the export pen manager of the arrival of the shipment and who the shipper will be.

In fact, information obtained from an anonymous source suggests that the relationship between Mike McBarron and the former Texas Department of AG export pen manager Ricardo Perez was quite inappropriate. Not only was Perez "in the know" regarding the real shippers of the horses that his pen received, he also assisted McBarron by correcting paperwork and microchip issues, as evidenced by incidents like the following:

On 3/20/14, McBarron informed Perez that two donkeys were shipped with the same microchip number and stated: "You might want to fix this."

On March 13, 2014, McBarron was notified by the Carnicos de Jerez plant that three of his horses had high levels of cadmium residue. It should be noted that cadmium is a banned substance in the EU as well as in Russia. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cadmium as carcinogenic to humans.

While the plant sent out an official "Warning Letter", the Plant Administrator, Sara Gurrola, informed McBarron she would need a response letter from him regarding the incident, stating that the horses had been fed with "nothing but grass." McBarron promised to do so. This level of prompting for specifically worded paperwork clearly shows a personal relationship and one that is completely inappropriate for the business at hand.

Our investigation also revealed that according to the International Health Certificates, all horses (no matter where the shipment originated) were inspected by Dr. Timothy Holt from Terrell, TX prior to shipment.

Which begs the question: How is it possible for Dr. Holt to inspect all these thousands of horses coming from Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana?

To read our detailed report, please go here.

Worse Yet, The Pens

We not only conducted in-depth background research into his ever-growing empire -- Animals' Angels investigators visited Mike McBarron's collecting station in Forney numerous times as well, and followed trucks loading and unloading at his facility. As many already know, this location also doubles as the site for McBarron's broker program.

Conditions inside the vast pen area are poor at best. There is no shelter available for the majority of the horses, no protection from the sun. In the hot summer months, the dry lot pens turn into a massive dustbowl, while during heavy rain the horses fight their way through mud that reaches all the way up to their knees. In April of 2015, the mud was so deep that several horses were stuck and could not get out. However, any time it storms, the horses are left struggling in mud as has been made clear from our many observations at various times of the year.

Over the course of our investigation into McBarron's activities, we have found numerous horses in his care that were completely emaciated or appeared sick; coughing and showing signs of an ongoing strangles infection. Others had fresh injuries such as cuts on their legs or above their eyes. Tragically, some were even found dead in the pen area and appeared to have died without any human intervention.

During one visit, investigators found an emaciated grey horse with a completely busted up face in what appeared to be the "reject pen." Both eyes were swollen shut and dried blood was all over his face.

In October of 2015, Mike McBarron was observed using an electric prod to move horses, mules, and donkeys closer to the loading ramp. All animals were already tagged for slaughter, which makes it a clear violation of the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulation.

Investigators also noted that there were an unusually high number of mares with foals inside McBarron's lot. According to the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulation, horses have to be at least six month of age before they can legally be shipped to slaughter. A review of thousands of McBarron's 10-13 Forms did not show the shipment of a single horse under the age of six months.

However, even if foals were being shipped without being listed on the form, they would be rejected by the Mexican veterinarian during the export inspection at the border. It is therefore very likely that these mares and foals are purchased strictly for resale via the broker program.

Not a Good Neighbor

Environmental concerns abound with McBarron's operations and those in his neighborhood should be concerned with his activities. In March of this year, Animals' Angels investigators visited the premises in the middle of a thunderstorm and noticed that the entire pen area was flooded and a large amount of water contaminated with animal waste was running off the feedlot into the adjacent pond and drainage ditch. The drainage ditch runs directly through multiple yards of the neighboring housing development.

Environmental accountability seems to be an ongoing problem with McBarron as is made clear by previous complaints:

Further Action

Animals' Angels has provided copies of our comprehensive investigative report to all appropriate enforcement agencies in an effort to finally have Mike McBarron held accountable for his questionable activities. We strongly urge the USDA Slaughter Horse Transport Program as well as local authorities such as the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, the Texas Animal Health Commission, and the Texas Attorney General's Office to launch an investigation into Mike McBarron's business. Our evidence clearly shows that not only are the horses left to suffer due to McBarron's nefarious dealings, but the public health is at risk as well.

To read our detailed report, please go here.

Keep AA in the Field

Like you, we are passionate about helping the animals, it's why we do what we do. Our goal is to be in the field as much as possible doing what we can to end the appalling atrocities these innocent souls face every day. Investigations like the one you've just read, and the many others that we continually undertake, are costly ventures -- even on our shoestring budget -- however they are absolutely imperative if we want to help our fellow animals. The results from our in-depth reports and painstaking research have proven over and over again to spur positive change, but we need your support to carry out these urgent projects!

Please consider making a tax deductible donation so that our much needed work on behalf of the animals can continue.

Animals' Angels, Inc.
PO Box 1056
Westminster, MD 21158
www.animalsangels.org