Thursday, August 25, 2011

Update (among others, and most recent) On Horses in Presidio, Texas


Theft of Livestock/Theft by Check Charges Filed Against Presidio “Killer Buyer” in Slaughtergate Scandal

Horseback Magazine

August 25, 2011
By Steven Long 
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A purveyor of horse flesh being held in the Brewster County Jail in Alpine, Texas is likely to be transferred to Johnson County to face charges that carry a hefty bond if Trent Saulters is unable to raise the cash. He was arrested by Presidio County deputies Wednesday.

The charge, Theft of Property, carries a bond of $100,000. It is related to a hot check charge, possibly for the purchase of horses.  Saulters is also charged with Theft of Livestock. That charge carries a bond of $10,000. The chares were filed by the Johnson County, Texas office of the district attorney in Cleburne. County authorities would not release the name of the complainant.

The lid remained unexplicably tight on in the case of the Waco based slaughter kill buyer early Thurday when the office of Presidio County Sherrif Danny Dominguez refused to release information on the charges or bond to the media.
In another development related to a case that has brought controversy to the usually quiet county along the Mexican border, none of the 25 horses remaining of a large group of animals held in a Presidio slaughter pen have the characteristic star shaped brands of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and they may have gone to slaughter across the Rio Grande.

 The remaining  horses are being well cared for under the supervision of Deputy Joel Nunez in a county pen in Marfa. Unless someone claims the horse with legitimate papers, the county will auction them September 14.
Only four of these horses are over 10 years of age. Fourteen are mares. The rest are geldings. Six are two year olds. The littles one is a bay with a star and his age was undetermined.  There is mule that is in excellent shape.

Saulters has been at the center of a controversy that has embroiled the local sheriff’s department in news stories focusing on allegations of animal cruelty, misuse of federal horse health records, the dumping of dead horses in a flash flood prone creek bed during hurricane season, and ignoring possible crimes at the pen. The well known “killer buyer” is also embroiled in the controversial sale of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison horses.

Asked for comment as to whether TDCJ would continue to send horses to the Huntsville Livestock Auction where killer buyers bid on horses, spokeswoman Michelle Lyons told Horseback:

“As we had discussed before, the 61 cull horses recently sold were sold at public auction. That auction was open to the general public and we were informed by the auction house that there were at least 10 different buyers of TDCJ horses. We will continue to auction horses to the general public. Because this is a public auction, anyone who is part of the public may bid on these animals. We certainly cannot speak intelligently as to the buyers’ intent.”

Prison horses are often coveted by trail riders and other horsemen for their heft and steady demeanor. Saulters and his father, former prison inmate Terry Saulters, bought the horses and then it is alleged that the horses were transported to the Presidio holding pen within four days of the sale to await transport across the Rio Grande for slaughter. The horses allegedly suffered severe weight loss over a brief period.

The case has been under investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It is unknown if other agencies, including the Texas Animal Health Commission, or federal law enforcement are involved.

Horseback Magazine learned late Wednesday that an assistant attorney general has been assigned by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to look into the case.

Some of the horse Saulters transported to the pen in Presidio are alleged to have died on arrival, however, it’s unclear if the dead horses were owned or transported by Saulters.

Killer buyers such as Saulters are often under contract to supply slaughter houses with fresh horses. The horses are then butchered and their meat sold as a delicacy in Europe, Japan, and Latin America.

Horseback will continually update this story and post updates as circumstances warrant and information becomes available. We urge our readers to refresh their browser for frequently until we determine what charges Saulters is being held under.

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