Animal Investigations & Advocacy Exposed – Animals’ Angels Support

The Tale of Raul Benavides 

     February 2018


There was a time when there was just one place in the small border town of Eagle Pass, TX where kill buyers could bring their slaughter horses for export to Mexico. Those pens, operated by the Texas Department of Agriculture, stayed busy, accepting 6-8 loads of slaughter horses from all across the country each day.
However, rejects, horses too sick or too injured to pass the Mexican veterinary inspection, soon became a problem. The export pens refused to keep them and the truck drivers were often reluctant to take these weakened animals all the way back to the kill buyer; too much could go wrong in transit.
So, the kill buyer community soon found the perfect solution for the problem – namely, the Chula Vista Racetrack property, owned by local entrepreneur Raul Benavides. This location had everything the kill buyers needed: an extensive pen area, a loading ramp, an office building, enough space, and sufficient access roads to accommodate large trucks.
Most importantly, the location offered complete privacy and protection from potential prying eyes. The property backs up to an almost impenetrable swamp with multiple water channels and expansive underbrush. To the front, there is a mile-long driveway before the loading ramp and pen area is reached. Exposure by animal advocates such as Animals’ Angels had become a problem and this was the perfect location to dump all the sick and injured horses until they were ready for another export attempt or died – all without being seen.
horses at chula vista pens
There was one more benefit for the kill buyers shipping to this privately owned location: since there is no oversight by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), they could remain in the shadows. No longer would they need to unload at the Texas of Agriculture pens or have their activities monitored. Benavides offers a very convenient service to the kill buyers.
For instance, a kill buyer unloads at the Chula Vista Pens. Any sick, injured or dead horses are taken off the load. Benavides then uses his truck to deliver the kill buyer’s “clean load” to the official pen leaving the kill buyer to return home without ever having been seen at the TDA pens.
B & B transport truck at chula vista pens
However, it wasn’t long until AA investigators discovered this arrangement and exposed the location as the new collection station.  We started documenting trucks and the condition of the horses at Chula Vista. In 2012, our investigators flagged down one of Benavides trucks on the way to the TDA pens, since a horse that was just loaded had already collapsed inside the trailer and was being trampled. This incident resulted in the first face-to-face meeting between AA and Benavides, who confronted them at the TDA pens, stating “You can’t stop my trucks in the middle of the road…”
incident with downer horse on B & B transport truck
Animal advocates exposing their operations was not the only issue the Chula Vista pens sought to resolve. Competition among the kill buyers had become fierce and the main slaughter buyers were trying to gain dominance in the business. For a while, Texas kill buyer Mike McBarron gained control over the Chula Vista pens by leasing them from Benavides. However, this partnership was short lived.
In August 2015, the official TDA pens in Eagle Pass closed permanently. Perhaps not surprisingly, also in 2015, Benavides managed to become a fully functioning export facility just like the private pens in Presidio, TX, offering veterinary inspection and any other services as needed.
horses at chula vista pens
This development was of great concern – with another private export pen shipping horses to Mexico, official control by US authorities was diminished even further. Additionally, shipment paperwork, which used to be readily available for review when the pens where operated by TDA, was now hidden in the endless FOIA request backup at USDA/APHIS.
Ever since, Benavides’ part in the slaughter horse industry has been steadily growing. Recently, Benavides has started to acquire hundreds of horses and donkeys a month from all across the country. He has a broad-reaching network of small horse traders and bottom-feeders like Jacob Thompson from the Double S Kill Pen who supply him with horses.
chula vista pens
However, one of his favorite places to buy is also no surprise to us. Jason Bailey, owner of the notorious Knoxville Horse Auction, has been selling load after load to Benavides.
And who has been supplying horses to Bailey? Not the poverty-ridden, small town family forced to give up their beloved pet. No. The evidence suggests that the majority of these horses come from the same longstanding horse traders Animals’ Angels has been monitoring for years. Namely, Willie Rudd, Wilson Horse and Mule, Amy Rose, Jason Sexton, David Merrell, Holladay Livestock, and Jason Bailey himself.
Animals’ Angels has been actively investigating this situation for some time and rest assured, we will continue to do so. Although we cannot share all of the details with you now, we will release our findings to the public once all possible enforcement avenues have been exhausted.

At Animals’ Angels, with you as our partner, we are making a positive difference in the lives of animals every single day.  The investigations we conduct, like this one into Raul Benavides’ operations, help to uncover the atrocities that are being perpetrated on farm animals and slaughter-bound horses throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Thanks to kind-hearted people like you, our reports have been shared throughout the world, exposing the cruel and inhumane practices that seem to run rampant in the animal industry. Working together we are making a real difference and furthering the much-needed changes and improvements these animals so deserve. Your thoughtful contribution will ensure that our work continues, people are informed, and animals are saved.

“We are there with the animals” – only YOU can make it possible. Won’t you please donate today?

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