Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • I'm doing some surveillance on a slaughter farm

  • Miami, Florida.

  • On this farm they're killing with sledgehammers,

  • and butchering alive.

  • I think one of them saw me in the area,

  • They patrol this area on ATVs.

  • Threats have been made for the past 13 years on my life.

  • I'm not too popular in these areas.

  • When they weren't chasing me with sledgehammers

  • and axes, I would be getting phone calls,

  • I would be getting emails,

  • I would be getting messages on social media.

  • An undercover operation

  • sheds light into the cruel treatment of animals

  • at a West Palm Beach farm.

  • The animals behind us residing in this torture operation

  • have a voice today.

  • When people would be arrested

  • in interrogation rooms, they would tell law

  • enforcement that guy, Kudo, had better watch his ass

  • because there are bounties on this guy's head.

  • He's the only one taking this industry down

  • and no one wants that person breathing anymore.

  • So Richard Kudo is an interesting guy

  • to say the least.

  • So right now, we are in Area 97.

  • We're just going over some mappings

  • of some slaughter farms and animal fighting farms.

  • He sailed on the America's cup team

  • like extreme sports guy.

  • He was also a property flipper in Miami, in South beach

  • in the 2000s when the market was quite high.

  • And it's where I blossomed financially.

  • It's where I made my money and made my nest egg.

  • But I had a void.

  • I had a void of doing something more important with my life.

  • So Kudo was volunteering

  • with the SPCA back in 2008.

  • Basically mucking stalls,

  • doing whatever work they needed around the barn.

  • And they got a distress call one day from the police

  • because SPCA would often help relocate

  • animals that the police would find in distress.

  • So, you know, I went out there driving my Range Rover

  • leaving South beach.

  • And they came across some butchers farm

  • that the police were at.

  • They came across this horse, beautiful horse

  • brown with white on his nose.

  • He had a broken leg, he was emaciated.

  • And I walked up to him and he put his head

  • in my arms and he just put all his weight on me.

  • And right then and there, I started falling for this animal

  • But underneath the horses lip

  • on its gums was tattooed a code.

  • And they were kind of curious to know what that meant.

  • It turns out that these horses are tattooed

  • on their lips to show where they're from

  • and what their pedigree is and they belong to.

  • And so this horse, this horse is named Freedom's Flight.

  • The horse had broken its leg during a race.

  • So I tracked his lineage and it was shocking

  • that I learned of his bloodlines, that it came

  • from some of the most famous race horses on the planet.

  • How could this horse end up at an illegal slaughterhouse?

  • It boggled my mind.

  • He ended up adopting him.

  • Freedom Flight still lives at his compound in Florida.

  • Sort of got him going into this world

  • of underground horse butchering.

  • These are slaughter horses here.

  • And we have a mayor down here.

  • She's clinging to life right now.

  • The SPCA was not an organization that was geared

  • towards me or anyone else going undercover

  • and investigating these people, which is

  • the only reason why I started the animal recovery mission.

  • The animal recovery mission

  • taped and exposed the property

  • while conducting an investigation.

  • We basically go undercover where no one else will.

  • And the public sector and the private sector,

  • if they're disregarding something

  • as far as animal cruelty ARM will take it on.

  • It's something that is so incredibly important

  • and it's become my life's mission.

  • He's so skinny.

  • I would just cut checks and rip out my bank accounts

  • to fund it without thinking about it.

  • The guy right here, his wife who sort of up.

  • And to be honest I don't know how much money

  • that I've spent, but it's close to the seven figures over

  • and

  • it's been worth it.

  • I'm dealing with the USDA right now on a horse meat buy.

  • Basically they're embedded with some horse killers.

  • So horse meat internationally is a pretty commonly

  • eaten food, not on the level of beef or pork

  • but it's popular in a lot of cultures in Japan,

  • central Asia, France, and in Cuba.

  • And a lot of Cuban-Americans live in South Florida.

  • And many of them still want to eat horse meat.

  • They're eating horse meat for medical purposes.

  • They think that it cures blood disorders

  • that it helps with side effects from chemotherapy.

  • But all horse meat, whether it's imported

  • or horses are slaughtered and butchered

  • in this country for human consumption, it's illegal.

  • This is roughly 30 pounds of horse meat purchased

  • in Palm beach County.

  • They've actually cut this horse meat

  • into small steak-like filets.

  • In Florida, the problem is that many times

  • laws geared towards protecting animals are not being upheld

  • by law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and juries.

  • And that's extremely, extremely frustrating.

  • The laws in Florida are still too weak.

  • If you are a first time felony animal abuser

  • it is unlikely that you will get prison time.

  • You may get County jail time

  • but that even would be in some cases, a stretch.

  • There's really not a whole lot I can do with them

  • whether they plead guilty or they're found guilty

  • because most judges, even in the most horrible crimes

  • do not put them in jail will not put them in prison.

  • So they're placed on probation.

  • Animal abuse here is so under reported

  • because there simply are not the resources

  • for the police departments, the Sheriff's department,

  • animal care and control to go out

  • and really investigate these crimes.

  • Right now I'm in the C-9 Basin

  • a really nasty property

  • with four completely emaciated horses.

  • The C-9 Basin is this patch of brushy land

  • wedged between Miami and the Everglades.

  • And it's really meant to be an ecological buffer zone.

  • It's not really meant to have humans living there

  • but lots of people do live there.

  • There are the horses.

  • This is the kill area here.

  • That's the rug that they're covering the horses with

  • after they remove the meat.

  • When I first started investigating the basin

  • at the beginning of 2009,

  • law enforcement wouldn't even go into the basin

  • no one would go into the basin and uphold laws.

  • Certainly wouldn't go in there to investigate crimes

  • against animals, which was why horse meat was flourishing

  • as an industry.

  • This area is pretty lawless.

  • A local paper in Miami called it the closest thing

  • America has to a wild West outpost

  • and having been there a couple of times

  • I can attest to that being true.

  • And then people's pet horses start being stolen.

  • Usually someone's pet horse, their pony,

  • they'll come to the barn in the morning

  • and either the horse has vanished

  • or a couple of hundred yards away and a trail of blood away

  • there's a perfectly butchered and filleted carcass

  • of what used to be your pet pony.

  • When was my horse stolen, he was butchered.

  • He was tied into a palm tree.

  • So all these are bloodstains here?

  • Yeah.

  • When I started going in to the basin in 2009,

  • I was still a developer, but I knew hundreds of thousands

  • of animals were in there being brutalized

  • with everyone ignoring the crimes against them.

  • Animals were killed in really inhumane ways,

  • being stabbed in the chest or shot with low caliber guns,

  • their throat sled and tortured, boiled alive,

  • really horrific stuff.

  • And to see his videos,

  • he has a massive trove of undercover videos

  • is pretty scary stuff.

  • So this is Kudo Thawn.

  • I am investigating an illegal slaughter farm.

  • I didn't know what I was doing,

  • completely and utterly untrained.

  • I am armed but I still don't feel that safe.

  • And I started to infiltrate properties.

  • Some of them legally, some of them illegally.

  • And I started to document the crimes against the animals.

  • See a horse. Doesn't look like he's in great shape.

  • Before he got involved,

  • there really wasn't a lot of policing of this world.

  • The police down there have a lot on their plates

  • in terms of the murder and robbery and credit card fraud.

  • And so animal cruelty was not really high

  • on their list of priorities.

  • I think that when you have a state where animal cruelty

  • is way too prevalent, and our laws are way too weak,

  • it's important to have someone like Richard Kudo out there.

  • He's someone who's a true believer, who takes risks

  • and sometimes crossing the line to get these secret videos

  • out to the public.

  • I understand his passion behind it

  • but the way he goes about it, is not the way

  • one should go about it if you're going to successfully

  • prosecute these animal cruelty cases.

  • I investigated the C-9 Basin for roughly six months

  • and I comprised files of roughly a hundred properties,

  • illegal properties, and I presented it to law enforcement

  • but I also collected violations, building violations,

  • zoning violations, environmental violations

  • while I was collecting crimes against animals.

  • Just come out of this one farm now.

  • And after roughly six months of just about every night

  • infiltrating every single property that I possibly

  • could in the basin, I created a report.

  • And the police, they're shocked

  • by what's going on in the Basin

  • not only from an animal rights perspective

  • but also from a zoning and codes perspective.

  • And the investigation

  • of the C-9 Basin actually led to Operation Restore.

  • And it was one of the largest operations

  • in history of the state of Florida.

  • Thousands of agents

  • tactically hitting the entire C-9 Basin

  • Just after dawn

  • an army of regulators and police

  • deployed to shut down slaughter farms.

  • It was just a massive take-down

  • of illegal activity that was going on in the C-9 Basin.

  • 17 cockfighting rings, over 400 illegal structures.

  • You know, hundreds of citations issued

  • for dumping and butchering an animal cruelty.

  • It was the most incredible thing that I had ever seen.

  • And all of those nights infiltrating these properties,

  • all of those nights, being chased with machetes

  • and axes, the danger that I put myself in,

  • it paid off.

  • So after the raid, governor Charlie Crist

  • signs a law that basically increases penalties

  • for slaughtering horses.

  • And to Kudo, this seems like it should be

  • the end of the story, a sort of climax

  • and it's actually the end of act one in the story.

  • So kudos on a high,

  • you can almost hear the happy music playing

  • as he's awarded citizen of the year by the Miami new times

  • but he starts becoming more paranoid

  • about the enemies that he's making.

  • Butchers do not like him, they have followed him,

  • they have shot at him.

  • Kill buyers, people all over the country

  • who are buying horses to export for meat don't like him.

  • And so his paranoia was actually quite justified.

  • All these mofos know who I am and what I look like

  • and they don't like me.

  • There was one year

  • I believe I moved close to seven different times

  • because they were finding my address in utilities.

  • When I would put my name