Authorities are investigating the discovery of a slaughtered miniature or very small horse, found Monday in rural Miami-Dade County.
"I found two puncture wounds under the chin and that's basically how the horse is bled out," Animal Rescue Mission's horse slaughter investigator Richard Couto told Local10. "And the throat was slashed, but it took a while for this horse to die."
A policeman on patrol reportedly found the body of the small female horse in 17900 block of NW 128th Avenue, well within 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 animal was tortured and is in roughly 20 to 30 pieces behind me," said Couto to CBSMiami. "There are some sick people out there that have been doing this in Miami-Dade County for 50 years. These are violent, evil people. These are nasty, nasty people."
Couto told WSVN it appeared the chopped-up mare had recently been someone's pet: "The shoe is newly trimmed, new horse shoes, and the coat as well is in very good condition."
The discovery comes on the heels of that of another horse's carcass discovered floating in a canal in late December, and Couto told the Miami Herald he found a slain quarter horse in the same location about a month ago.
With chunks of meat missing from the horse's halved carcass and all her limbs cut off, she is believed to be among the string of grisly butcherings feeding South Florida's illegal horse meat trade. Though the C-9 Basin was raided by task force after 21 carcasses were found dumped in 2009, a tangle of laws and shared jurisdiction hamper efforts to fully eradicate illegal slaughter.
"There's a big, large demand for the meat, and not just in Miami-Dade and South Florida but all of Florida," Couto 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: