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Florida man charged with animal torture in slaughterhouse sting

(Reuters) - A Florida man was arrested and charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty at a Miami-area slaughterhouse where pigs were shot, stabbed and boiled alive, officials said on Wednesday.

His arrest followed an undercover investigation late last year by Animal Recovery Mission, an animal welfare group, at the illegal slaughterhouse on a rural farm near the Florida Everglades.

Videotapes by the group allegedly showed Yurianne Hervis-Gonzalez, 33, bashing the pigs with a mallet to prepare them for slaughter and thrusting live animals into boiling water, according to an arrest report from the Miami-Dade Police Department.

"He was the main killer," said Richard Couto, Animal Recovery Mission's founder, calling Hervis-Gonzalez the most violent animal killer in the United States.

"Many of the animals would be brought to him alive and he would start sledge hammering, stabbing to death and gutting," Couto said.

The group called its five-month investigation "Operation Noche Buena," drawing the name from a holiday in which pigs are commonly served in Hispanic households.

The organization found that hundreds of pigs were brutally killed at the slaughterhouse and had offered a $10,000 reward for the information that tracked down Hervis-Gonzalez. The slaughterhouse's main operator and another worker were also arrested in connection with the investigation.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Eric Beech)

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