MADERA COUNTY – A second arrest has been made in a case of horse theft in Madera County. The Madera County Sheriff’s Office AG Crimes Investigation Unit has been able to confirm that one of the horses allegedly stolen by Summer Tex in 2013 was in fact shipped out of state for slaughter.
Billy Ray Brown, Jr., 45, of Madera, was arrested shortly before noon on Tuesday, May 20. He was taken into custody at B&B Livestock located on Road 21, and booked into Madera County Department of Corrections on suspicion of transporting horses out of state for slaughter for human consumption.
His arrest follows the capture of 27-year-old Summer Rose Tex, also of Madera, who surrendered to authorities on April 26.
Tex, a Brand Inspector for the California Department of Food & Agriculture was entrusted with the care and transport of two horses, Lacey and Squirt, in August 2013. The owner was promised that both equines would serve out their remaining years as “Pasture Buddies” for colts and fillies born on Harris Ranch properties. One horse was to be delivered to Coalinga, and the other horse to Sanger. They never reached their destination.
By April 8, 2014, eight months after they vanished, the owner of the two horses contacted the Sheriff’s Office asking for help in locating them.
In his search to learn the fate of a Lacey and Squirt, AG Crimes Detective Adam McEwen followed a paper trail of receipts that, by mid-May, led him from Madera to the state of Washington and then to Canada.
Instead of going to Fresno County, as promised, Lacey was transported from Madera and sold to Florence Packing Company, an operational transfer station located in Stanwood, WA. It is believed that Squirt suffered the same fate. The transfer of ownership took place on Sept. 12, 2013.
Because only Lacey was branded, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office was able to confirm that she in fact was sold for slaughter. Squirt however was not branded, therefore it cannot be confirmed at this time if he was sold for slaughter as well, but it’s believed he died along with Lacey.
Detectives are sure that Lacey was inspected and then shipped to Bouvry Exports, a slaughterhouse located in Alberta, Canada.
Florence Packing typically ships livestock to Canada within 36 hours after receiving them. It is believed she reached Canada sometime in mid to late September.
Washington State AG confirmed Lacey was purchased by Florence, then inspected by employees with the State’s AG Department, and then transferred to the slaughter station in Canada.
Before a transfer can be made however, the seller has to provide a bill of sale or proof of ownership of a horse. If the horse is not registered to the seller or a bill of sale could not be provided, the horse would have been seized by the government.
Paperwork produced showed the horse owner was a Lebanon, Oregon resident who was not Billy Brown, Jr. The subject listed on the document was contacted and told authorities that he had no idea who Bill Ray Brown, Jr. was, and that he did not sell any horses to him.
According to Washington state authorities, had they known the horses were illegally transported out of the state of California to a facility used typically as a transfer station for slaughter, the equines’ lives could have been spared.
Lacey, a 21-year-old Quarter Horse mare, and Squirt, a 26-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, valued at a combined $55,000, were two docile and well trained horses and despite their age, were in great health and would have been perfectly suited to serve as Pasture Buddies. Instead, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office alleges both equines were stolen then slaughtered.
Summer Rose Tex never purchased either horse. She purportedly gave the owner a verbal promise to transfer both to Harris Ranch. Because neither horse made it, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office alleges she stole both equines.
Billy Brown Jr., is accused of transporting horses out of state to a transfer station that sells horses for slaughter. According to Penal Code 598c(a), this is a felony and punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, or two to three years.