A trucker who says he unknowingly drove horses to their deaths at a border slaughterhouse is telling his story to Channel 4.
He doesn't want his name used because he now works for another company, so we agreed to call him "Bob."
Bob made a run for Three Angels Farms in Lebanon in 2010. He says the owner, Dorian Ayache, lied to him and told him he would be hauling a load of cattle to Texas. Bob says when he arrived to pick up the cattle, he was told the plan had changed and that he would be delivering horses to Texas.
They loaded about 70 horses on two livestock trailers; the driver says he immediately felt uncomfortable when Ayache began striking the horses with a fiberglass rod when they were reluctant to board the trailer.
"He would swat them as hard as he could," Bob says. "I didn't feel comfortable at all about it, I thought it was wrong."
The driver says Ayache insisted on leaving at night and told him not to fill out his log book until he arrived in Texas.
In Texarkana, Bob says Ayache told him, "If the Texas Highway Patrol stops us, tell him we picked up the horses here in Texarkana."
The driver didn't know the reason.
Horses that are imported from out of state require health certificates, which Bob says they didn't have.
"The horses we were driving, we didn't have any papers at all on the horses. All we had was a registration," Bob says.
He says the horses had a green sticker on their hindquarter labeled USDA, a sticker that those in the industry tell Channel 4 means the horses were destined to be slaughtered for human consumption.
There were two trucks making the trip, Bob says; one of them was a two-deck livestock trailer. Those trailers are now no longer allowed for horse transport because horses don't have enough room to stand up.
"They were scrunched up a little," Bob says, "they did have to bend their necks."
He says that during the trip, the two trucks stopped at a rest stop, but the horses were not given food or water.
"If they were laying down, he stuck an electric cattle prod in there and shocked them with it to make them stand back up," Bob says.
He says when they arrived in Texas, they went first to Eagle Pass and unloaded about half the horses at the Texas Agricultural Export Pen. The other horses were unloaded in Presidio, TX, at the C-4 Cattle Ranch, he says. The businesses are just across the border from Mexico, where horses are slaughtered for markets oversees.
Bob says what he heard and saw there made him very uncomfortable.
He says the horses being off-loaded were shot with steroids. He says he asked the man who appeared to be the owner of the facility why and says he was told, "'It beefs them up so they can get more at the slaughterhouse for them.' That turned my stomach for the worst. I didn't have any idea what I was getting into," he says.
The driver says they sold one of the two trailers at the company where they stopped and headed back to Tennessee.
Before they left, he says, a horse was loaded into the empty trailer for the return trip. Bob says the horse was emaciated and sick-looking.
The horse had been rejected for sale.
"Ayache said, 'I guess I'm going to have to cut my losses and shoot it,'"according to Bob.
Instead, Bob says, the horse was dropped off at another farm in Tennessee.
The driver says Ayache paid his drivers in cash, but that after he refused to make a second trip, Ayache never paid him. He says he doesn't care about the money, he just wanted to get away from the farm.
He says he became attached to two of the horses he was hauling.
"A black mare, she was real pretty, real healthy. The whole way down there, she kept kicking the trailer," he says.
He was also fond of a brown horse with a white face.
"I took a picture of it, and showed it to my little girl. Then I thought, I'm showing you this horse, and now it's going to be on someone's dinner table. It's just such a sad scenario. I cried when I got back. I just teared up real bad," he says.
"It just makes me sick that those horses went down to Texas and I drove for him down to Texas for them to be slaughtered for their meat," he says.
Channel 4 offered Ayache an opportunity to be interviewed on camera about his horse hauling business, an invitation he says he's considering.
He told Channel 4's Nancy Amons he would prefer to let the coverage, "die down so it'll go back to normal." Ayache told Amons, "You're messing with my livelihood. "
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