12/27/2011 12:03 pm ET | Updated Feb 26, 2012

Slaughtered Horse Remains Found Floating In Southwest Miami-Dade Canal

The remains of yet another slaughtered horse were found in a Southwest Miami-Dade canal on Monday, the latest in a string of grisly butcherings feeding South Florida's illegal horse meat trade.

The dismembered carcass of a white horse was reported by a ranch owner who spotted it in a canal near Southwest 136th Street and 205th Avenue around 2 p.m. Monday, according to the Miami-Dade police report. Responding officers observed the animal's head, intestines, and skin floating in the canal.

According to the police report, investigators believe the horse was slaughtered in another location and dumped in the canal, and a crime lab unit processed what appeared to be dried blood with fingerprints along a guard rail surrounding the canal.

Much of the illegal horse meat trade is tied to Miami-Dade's infamous C-9 Basin, a rural agricultural zone west of the Turnpike and widely considered to be one of the most active horse slaughter locations in the world.

The record 21 carcases found dumped in 2009 helped prompt a massive task force raid in the basin, but a tangle of laws and shared jurisdiction have hampered efforts to fully eradicate illegal slaughter. Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps tabs on licensed slaughterhouses (the last of which was operational in Illinois in 2007), the prosecution of their unlicensed kin falls to multiple jurisdictions, and often through the cracks.

"There's a big, large demand for the meat, and not just in Miami-Dade and South Florida but all of Florida," activist Richard Couto of the Animal Rescue Mission told NBCMiami in October, after a mare was stabbed through the heart and butchered alive. "The meat is going between $7-40 per pound in our state. It's a high commodity item, and when there's a demand there's gonna be supply...

"This has been going on in Miami-Dade county for 30, 40, 50 years, and those days need to be over and done with."

Watch a previous special report on South Florida slaughterhouses below:


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