The livestock trailer loaded with horses that overturned on Interstate 40 Monday night may have been delivering the horses to their deaths across the border.
Three Angels Farms, based in Lebanon, may sound like some sort of horse rescue operation, but the Lebanon company is licensed as a livestock dealer. The driver, Mance Frank Reed, told state troopers Monday night he was taking the horses to Presidio, TX.
Presidio is the home of a feed lot where horses are commonly held in pens until they are brought across the border to be slaughtered in Mexico. The meat is exported for human consumption outside the United States.
The owner of Three Angels Farms, Dorian Ayache, confirms that his company has delivered loads of horses to Presidio before and has done business with C-4 Cattle Company, a company that holds horses for export to Mexican slaughterhouses.
During the summer of 2011, authorities in Texas investigated how animals that were rejected by the slaughterhouses ended up abandoned with no food and water.
Ayache confirmed to Channel 4's Nancy Amons that he was involved in the incident in Presidio, but said, "I'm not willing to talk about it."
He initially told Amons the truck from Monday's accident had been headed to Oklahoma, but would not say where in Oklahoma.
The truck was loaded with 36 horses. Ayache confirmed what authorities told us Monday night - that three horses had to be euthanized, one was injured, and 32 were taken to a Dickson livestock facility after the wreck.
A man who identified himself as the owner of Dickson Livestock told Amons another semi came to pickup the horses in the wee hours of the morning to transport the horses to Texas.
The state veterinarian for Tennessee, Dr. Charles Hatcher, confirms that he got a phone call from authorities in Texas several months ago asking about Ayache.
Hatcher says the Texas state vet called about concerns that Ayache was importing horses into Texas without the proper paperwork, including health certificates.
Hatcher says he paid a courtesy visit to Ayache, where they discussed the importance of following animal import regulations.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture licenses Three Angel Farms as a livestock dealer. Livestock dealers are supposed to have an inspection of their records once a year. Three Angel Farms was first licensed in July 2011, but has yet to have its first inspection.
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