TCEQ: operator of Presidio horse pens illegally dumped carcasses in creek
By EMILY JO CURETON
PRESIDIO – This summer C4 Cattle Inc. illegally dumped 46 horse carcasses in and along a creek bed in Presidio, according to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) report released this week. The investigation began in May after the agency received yet another round of complaints about animal bodies in the creek, situated in a residential area on the eastern edge of the border community.
The Burlington-based livestock company owned by William Crenan leases the Alvarado Pens in Presidio and uses them as a way station for horses headed to Mexico for slaughter. According to the report, C4 did not maintain mortality records for the animals or properly dispose of carcasses at an authorized solid waste facility, such as the City of Presidio Landfill, located half a mile from the pens.
Instead, the bodies were dragged with a tractor and dumped in Cibolo Creek, on private property owned by the Bass family of Tuscon.
Last October complaints about “highly offensive” smells coming from the creek prompted a similar TCEQ investigation. After visiting the pens, investigators noted a failure to maintain mortality records and failure to dispose of the carcasses within three days of death, as well as improper disposal.
Because they are a second offender, C4 was issued immediate corrective actions while TCEQ is still processing any enforcement penalties. For now, C4 must create a detailed mortality management plan and keep a copy on site at the Alvarado pens. The plan must include the date of an animal’s death, the cause of death, the animal’s ID or USDA tag number and the receipt for proper disposal.
Additionally, C4 must send the TCEQ photos of each carcass, showing the exact location of disposal.
No monetary penalties have been levied upon C4 at this time, however the enforcement branch of the TCEQ is reviewing the violations, which are subject to fines up to $10,000 per day, per violation.
It costs $22.50 a dispose of a horse at the city dump. According to Manuel Molinar, Presidio Operator of C4, respective distributors reimburse the company for the cost of disposal if a horse dies.
The cause of death of the 46 horses dumped in the creek remains unknown. A recent investigation by the Presidio County Sherriff’s Office probed allegations of abuse at the pens, which hold nearly 300 animals, but cleared C4 of any wrongdoing – the thin and poor horses found there apparently arrived in that condition.
“Some of the animals were coming in in really bad shape,” Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Nuñez told the Sentinel in August.
According to Molinar, C4 takes in about 30 new horses a day. The TCEQ report estimates that the company receives and ships 5,475 horses each year, all bound for slaughter in Mexico.
According to TCEQ spokesperson Lisa Wheeler, TCEQ regional offices will continue to work with the Sheriff’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to ensure that C4 stops dumping animal bodies in the stream.
“Obviously if they continue to ignore the corrective actions, then those are things that could be referred to the Attorney General’s office,” she said.
The TCEQ estimates the investigation cost $1,400. This is purely for the 67 hours put in by three investigators and does not include vehicle usage, a helicopter flyover by DPS, or the expenses incurred by the Presidio County Sherriff’s Department.
Download a .pdf of the full report here.