Tampa man accused of selling horse meat for human consumption first to face felony under Fla. law

TAMPA - It's been two years since the state of Florida made the buying and selling of horse meat a felony, and the first person to be charged under the new law was recently arrested in Tampa, officials announce.

Jorge Ortega Jr, 26, was taken into custody on Nov. 6 and charged with the sale of horse meat for human consumption, according a sheriff's office release.

Video of Ortega was recorded as he sold a 40-pound bag of meat to an undercover USDA agent during an investigation in February.

Officials say Ortega was involved with multiple slaughter farms in Citrus Park and Hillsborough, where he took part in killing horses and selling meat.  

The meat was tested at a lab and it was confirmed that the product was horse meat.

The illegal sale of horse meat has been a major issue in South Florida for the last few years.

According to a USA Today report, there were at least 17 reports of horse carcasses that were found on the side of roads, cut up from meat harvesting in 2009.   

Ortega was released on a $2,000 bond.   He is expected to appear in court next week.

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