NEWTON COUNTY — One suspect has been arrested for animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms that was captured byfootgage shotby an undercover investigation by Aminal Recovery Mission (ARM).
The Newton County Sheriff’s Department released that Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, 36 years old of Brook, IN was taken into custody June 12 on a warrant for animal cruelty (Class A Misdemeanor) and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal (Level 6 Felony)
He is currently being held at the Newton County Jail and the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a hold on him.
There are still outstanding warrants for Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros and Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano.
“This afternoon I signed felony and misdemeanor charges, asking for arrest warrants for three former employees of Fair Oaks Farms,” said Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski. “During this investigation Fair Oaks Farms has cooperated completely in our attempts to identify and interview all persons involved in the videos that we have all viewed over the past week. Although these three individuals are being charged, the investigation will continue. The video footage is being translated and further interviews will be conducted to determine if allegations of complicity by the planted employee or others are in fact true. As always, criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Department released the names of the individuals charged on Tuesday, June 11.
The police are still actively looking for the following individuals:
38-year-old Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano
31-year-old Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros
According to the probable cause affidavits, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a white binder on or about June 4, 2019 labeled Operation Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure, an Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) undercover investigation. The binder was received by the office in the mail.
The binder contained a summary of investigation provided by ARM, an advertised independent 501 C(3) non-profit organization established in 2010. The binder also contained information of the investigation indexed by a summary, location information, report recipients, references, crime-violations, and employees.
An external hard drive, which contained, video/audio footage of work performed on site of Fair Oaks Farm (5431 E CR 600 N, Fair Oaks, IN), was included in the binder.
According to the affidavits, video footage represented on the hard drive depicted a Spanish speaking male who captured audio/video footage of the day-to-day operations at Fair Oaks Farms. “Throughout the course of the footage there are several incidents of calves being pushed, thrown, slapped, kicked and pushed to the ground in and outside of the calves huts,” reported Detective Mike Rowe in the affidavit. “During the course of feeding, the calves were reluctant to feed and it appeared this caused the employees to become frustrated (and that led to the employees) striking the calves in the mouth with the plastic feeding bottles.”
Rowe stated that he met with management staff at Fair Oaks Farms Site 1 on June 5.
“During the course of the interview, I requested employee application files to identify the employees involved in the video. Using the still photos provided in the ARM binder, I requested the management staff to identify those employees.”
Interviews with other persons of interest are being conducted.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office stated the investigation is still ongoing and didn’t have news on the citizenship of the three suspects.
Questions regarding acceptable farm practices should be directed to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health as they are the governing body. They can be contacted by e-mail email@example.com or www.boah.in.gov
Assisting agencies included Indiana State Police, Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Newton County Prosecutor’s Office.
The investigation comes after a video was released by the Animal Recovery Mission after a three-month undercover investigation at one of the farms that make up Fair Oaks Farms.
Three of the employees on the video had already been fired prior to the video being released and one employee was fired afterwards according to Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey.
Assisting agencies included Jasper County Sheriff and Indiana State Police.