Fair Oaks Farms investigation: 1 of 3 suspects arrested in animal abuse case
FAIR OAKS, Ind. - One of three suspects wanted on suspicion of abusing animals at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana was arrested.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, was taken into custody Wednesday. He was arrested on suspicion of beating a vertebrate animal, which is a misdemeanor. ICE placed a hold on him, according to authorities.
Two other suspects, Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, 38, and Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros, 31, remain on the loose.
Gardozo-Vasquez and the two other suspects are part of an investigation the sheriff's office is conducting on Fair Oak Farms. A disturbing video surfaced showing employees at the dairy farm and beating calves.
The video, which was secretly recorded last year, was filmed by an investigator for the Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission, an animal advocacy group. The group said the investigator worked for several months at the farm, which is one of the largest dairy producers in the country.
In the video, newborn calves were thrown in and out of their huts by employees. The calves were also kicked in the head and carcasses of dead calves were piled in the dirt on the farm.
The footage also showed employees hitting the calves with their hands, feet and steel rods. Employees also burned the calves with branding irons.
Footage also appeared to show an employee doing cocaine in a work vehicle on the property and that weed was grown on site.
Fair Oaks Farms, which is about 70 miles south of Chicago, is the flagship farm of Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk. The brand is a joint venture between Fair Oaks Farms and The Coca-Cola Company.
Once the video surface, Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said four employees in the video were fired and actions were taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person in the video was a third-party truck driver who transported the calves, according to McCloskey.
Newton County Sheriff's Office officials said it requested the names of the ex-employees and person who shot the footage.
The investigation remains ongoing.