Targeted farms in Loxahatchee area inspected repeatedly - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Targeted farms in Loxahatchee area inspected repeatedly

Following a multi-agency raid at three separate farms in Loxahatchee our Contact 5 Investigators found inspection records and complaints at all three properties; some of them going back decades. We've reached out to Florida's Department of Agriculture, Palm Beach County Code Enforcement, Animal Control and the Department of Health. We were trying to determine how, if these crimes were being committed, they could go un-noticed for so long?

  

Because the criminal case is ongoing no agencies involved in Tuesday's raids on three farms can comment directly on the allegations of animal slaughter and abuse. However, they all point out these were licensed farms raising and selling animals. If animals were being abused and slaughtered it simply wasn't happening during inspections.

Contact 5 Investigators obtained records from Palm Beach County Code Enforcement going back to 1998 showing inspections almost annually at Garcia Farms following complaints.

Most of the complaints came from neighbors.

One from a 2011 claim stated: "There were dead animals all over the property."

Code enforcement inspected and found no violation but sent a referral to the county health department for "burning dead animals."

A complaint emailed to code enforcement in 2014, also about Garcia Farms, lists "An unbearable smell of dead animals left to rot, burning animal carcasses and the health of his horses."

Yet in December of 2014 the code enforcement director sent an email saying: "I inspected Rancho Garcia yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at the very clean conditions of the property."

After inspecting all three farms following Tuesday's raids the Palm Beach County Department of Health had a very different assessment. Of chief concern is:  "animal fluids dumped into fields for years."

A health department official says the animal fluids are now, at least, threatening to contaminate the well water. That's something the Department of Health says will have to be addressed before any of the farms can be operational in the future.  

We are still waiting on inspection reports from Florida's Department of Agriculture and Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

Animal control says it can't make specific comments due to the open criminal investigation but it has conducted numerous complaint inspections over the years at all three farms.  

We're told no criminal activity was observed but those reports will be released as soon as the State Attorney's Office gives the OK.

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