Former Larson Dairy Farm employee arrested after animal abuse allegations

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. A 49-year-old man was arrested after undercover video released by the Animal Recovery Mission appeared to show him kicking a cow at the Larson Dairy Farm.

Helias Cruz. Mugshot via Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.

The Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office conducted an interview with Jacob Larson, the owner of the farm, who assisted in identifying Helias Cruz, 49.

Cruz faces one misdemeanor charge of kicking an animal, the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office said in a report.

MORE: Larson Dairy Farm on probation status following animal abuse allegations

Larson terminated two employees and suspended two other employees after learning of the allegations, according to the report. One of the suspended employees quit after the suspension.

Warrants were issued for the following individuals:

  • Omar Jimenes Mendosa, 36, faces two animal cruelty charges.
  • Omar Guadalupe Mendosa, 29, faces eight animal cruelty charges.
  • Unnamed minor, 17, faces four animal cruelty charges.

Sheriff Stephen released the following statement:

“This is an ongoing investigation. Detective Lieutenant Brad Stark has secured warrants for four individuals involved thus far. Unfortunately only one has been located and arrested. The other three individuals have fled to whereabouts unknown due to the lack of prompt reporting to Law Enforcement. At this time, ARM Founder Richard Couto and his employee, who had recorded the submitted video, have been requested to submit interviews at the Sheriff’s Office, but have failed to do so at the time of this release. The delay in reporting and lack of cooperation is significantly hindering this investigation and has already allowed responsible individuals to avoid prosecution. It is my hope that this will change moving forward.”

ARM released new undercover video Thursday that shows employees at a second Okeechobee dairy farm, Burnham Farm, mistreating and beating cows.

MORE: Second Okeechobee dairy farm accused of animal cruelty

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