07/31/2013 10:17AM

Proposed slaughterhouse in New Mexico allegedly hit by arsonists


A proposed slaughterhouse facility in Roswell, N.M., set to begin domestic horse slaughter next week, was allegedly attacked by arsonists on Saturday, July 27, the owner said on Tuesday.

Chaves County officials told the Roswell Daily Record that an investigation has been opened into a “very suspicious” fire set at the Valley Meat Co. The company’s owner, Rizck De Los Santos, told the Associated Press that arsonists “tried to burn the place down” and that a fire inspector had determined that the blaze, which damaged the plant’s refrigeration unit, was not caused by electricity or lightning.

Valley Meat Co. cleared a regulatory hurdle last month when the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it was legally required to provide inspection services.

The company goes to federal court on Friday, Aug. 2, to fight attempts by several activist groups, including The Humane Society, to block the resumption of horse slaughter at the facility and another approved slaughterhouse in Iowa. The groups contend that the USDA failed to conduct necessary environmental reviews before issuing inspection permits.