Federal authorities have charged three men with violating meat inspection laws by allegedly slaughtering goats in a fly-infested Anne Arundel County facility and selling the contaminated meat to ethnic markets in the Washington area.
"The goats were slaughtered under filthy circumstances and transported in unrefrigerated vans in 100-degree heat," Assistant Attorney Maury S. Epner said yesterday. "It was disgusting."
The operators of Edndichie Poultry and Livestock, a slaughterhouse in Gambrills, allegedly sold meat from animals that were diseased, dying or, in some cases, even dead when butchered, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by U.S. Department of Agriculture agents.
The agents alleged that the slaughterhouse was "dirty, stained with blood and animal parts, infested with flies and generally unsanitary."
Eddy Igweze Ndichie, a Nigerian immigrant who allegedly operated the slaughterhouse in the 1200 block of Defense Highway, was charged in a criminal complaint with violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act. He was arrested last Friday.
Ndichie, who also sells cars at a dealership in College Park, was to appear before a federal magistrate today for a detention hearing, Epner said. He came to the United States in 1986 as a student at Howard University in Washington, according to court records.
USDA investigators also arrested Harvest "Robert" Sultry and Frank Abbah on similar charges.
The maximum penalty for violating the meat inspection act, a felony, is three years in prison.
Agent James P. Knorr, of the USDA inspector general's office, said the Gambrills slaughterhouse was not authorized by the USDA or the Food Safety and Inspection Service as required by law.
Under the law, USDA inspectors must be present during all slaughtering operations, Knorr said.
An informant told the USDA in May that the slaughterhouse was selling uninspected goats, lambs, sheep and other animals to international food markets and restaurants in the Washington metropolitan area, court papers said.
OC Authorities said they have received no reports of consumers get
ting sick from eating the contaminated meats.
"Our main concern right now is to protect the public from uninspected and [contaminated] goat carcasses," Knorr said.
The contaminated meats from the Gambrills slaughterhouse have been removed from three food markets, authorities said.
Agents said they watched as goats were slaughtered under unsanitary conditions, transported in unrefrigerated vans and sold for about $150 a goat. Goat organs also were sold illegally.
After undercover agents bought five goats, tests on the animals found that some were diseased and unfit for human consumption, court records said.
Agents also reported seeing a slaughterhouse worker urinate on a cement slab where the goats' organs were cut up.
Ndichie told investigators that he sold the goats live to customers who then slaughtered the animals at his facility, according to the affidavit.
Oge Eze, who manages Tropical Foodmart on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park, said he purchased goats from Ndichie. Goat meat, he said, is popular among some immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.
Eze said Ndichie told him the meats had been inspected. Some of the meats had a government stamp, he said, adding: "It's really not my business to go inspecting the meats."