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Richard "Kudo" Couto, Guerrilla Animal Activist, Targets Brutal Santeria Sacrifices

Categories: News
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Warning: The following page contains some graphic and disturbing images.

Richard "Kudo" Couto is the renegade animal activist who virtually single-handedly forced the closure of an entire thriving district of unlicensed slaughterhouses, pissing off loads of live-off-the-land Cubans in the process. Now he's turning his attention to publicizing the animal "torture" of Santeria sacrifices. This should make for a good fight.

Couto's Rambo act -- he wore a disguise, carried two guns, and disregarded property laws during solo nighttime "raids" of slaughterhouses -- received national media attention when his videos and research caused the lawless area known as the C-9 district, ground zero for Miami's horse meat black market, to be dismantled by authorities.

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Couto now says that many of those slaughterhouses catered to the Santeria crowd, selling dogs, goats and chickens especially for vodou sacrifices. He routinely found mutilated animal corpses in the area.

 "Some of these animals had their eyes missing, their genitalia missing," he says. "Most people think that santeria sacrifices are mainly goats. They don't know that dogs are also tortured too. With the Haitian population, the longer that the animal suffers, the quicker that the evil spirits will come forth."

Couto hasn't stopped his commando raids--just switched target areas. He's currently stalking a puppy mill (there's a photo below) where he guesses "90 percent of the dogs and puppies" are going to be used for Santeria sacrifices.

The legality of ritual animal sacrifices has long been debated. In 1993, a Santeria-practicing church took a battle against the City of Hialeah all the way to the Supreme Court, where in a landmark decision the justices decided the sacrifices were an exercise of religious freedom. With Couto's knack for publicity, expect this issue to be rekindled.

Here are some of Couto's photos, which he says are evidence of a Santeria black market:

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A bag of post-sacrifice remains including a decapitated goat and, yes, turtles.
santpuppy.jpg
Couto believes this is what remains of a puppy which was skinned in sacrifice.
santdogs.jpg
The puppy mill Couto's been stalking.
santhorns.jpg
Thousand of goat horns found in an illegal slaughterhouse Couto says catered to sacrifices.
santdogcross.jpg
Couto says a friend discovered this in the Miami area. The dog was alive when found, he believes, but eventually died.
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150 comments
Lisa
Lisa

Would someone, anyone, send me a way to help this particular man.  I am willing and able, 46 years old, would love to do any type of stake out or surveillance in the Miami area.  Any serious information should be sent to my email address and I will fIight these people without fear.  Look at the photos of the DOG!  Why isn't the Humane Society of the United States, to whom donate generously monthly, doing ANYTHING?  I contacted the local Humane here in Miami to see what I could do to help, and they said they only handle domestic pet cases.  They referred me to the Hialeah police, who also blew me off.  Will someone from my area please contact me via email and let's help Richard Kouto.

Kcee
Kcee

all you santeros need to go back to your modern day cuba with fidel and his commies. Real cubans do not practice this. only stupid weak minded hispanic dumbasses that congest our roads and cause traffic are practicing this afrocuban voodoo devil crap. You think that this religion will relieve you of evil spirits or cleanse your life and bring you riches? think again. My uncle killed himself thanks to this evil shit. had 3 beautiful boys, a nice house in kendall, it seemed like the money was always coming in blah blah blah . Then everything started crashing down slowly. You see as a person whos well aware of santeria (my mom forbid me and my sister from visiting eventually when we were young) knows that when you go into this religion it seems nice at first...you think you are protected. You think you are invincible as long as you keep going to the "misas". You think that youll have money and nice cars as long as your doing it. Think again. Its all a scam. Youre "religion" is actually attracting bad spirits. Ones that you never had in the first place. My uncle literally spent $30,000.00 to "make" himself and do the whole 9 yards with this occult bullshit. In the end when he needed help, none of his santero brothers and sisters helped him or offered any money when he needed it the most. He had no money he felt like he failed as a father and a husband. The sons of course blame the mother for this death because of their verbal arguments and what not. Unfortunately they are already and have been brainwashed and its very hard especially when youre raised around it. I blame only one thing...santeria. If i was governor of this state or a police chief or even an fbi. the top things on my to do list would be to outlaw and arrest anyone who practices santeria. To me it is not a religion but a branch of the devils thoughts. Miami is turning into a coconut shell littered, dead animal smelling, congested streets, farting making muffler cesspool city. Its all thanks to stupid ignorant people who dont know how to run their own lives so they need a asshole dressed in white to tell them how to live their lives. Fck you and your so called religion santeros y santeras.

RIP Raymundo Diaz died February 2, 2011 thanks to santeria.

K, twentysomething cuban american

Asummers
Asummers

I am looking to be an activist and personally think that this behavior and cruelty (especially the dog on the cross) disgusting. They should try doing to a friend what they do to these poor living, feeling, underestimated creatures. They just wouldn't because it's "so wrong" and "cruel and in humane". Exactly. Xxx

Drlorrie
Drlorrie

Ignorant, evil people. Thanks for all you are doing? I'm living in an area with mostly Haitians (North Miami). It's a shame to see the way they treat their animals (and their children). They need to acculturate into this society or take their primitive, evil customs back to their country. Hispanics too. They are just as bad with animal sacrifices.

Byanes6974
Byanes6974

Funny thing you are all arguing over OPINIONS, which does not make anything a FACT. FACT is Santeros are not breaking any laws by slaughtering animals. They have right of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. The best thing to do for anyone is to stay within the law and not discriminate based on mis-information. Kudo has empowered himself by taking advantage of peoples lack of knowledge of their rights. A FACT is he has been the one violating human rights and laws. We the santeria community will not tolerate any abuse towards our faith, our rights and our people. You do not need to agree with us, but you need to respect us. We will not back down.

Souris
Souris

Santeria and Vodou (which is also capitalized) are two separate religions.NEITHER sacrifices dogs. Sacrifices are as humane as kosher slaughter, and are cooked and eaten by the community.

Where is *any* proof that these cruelly slaughtered animals were tied to Santeria?What is this guy's motivation for spreading lies about other religions?

Leah
Leah

need help freeing these animals... the line starts here...

Kram
Kram

Sataneros kill defenseless animals but cannot get rid of Fidel Castro Sataneria is nothing but animal cruelty. It will not be tolerated in the United States Take the Balsa back to Cuba we do not torture animals in this country.

animal vigilante
animal vigilante

cruelty is cruelty the animal activist do not agree with you animal killers you will all burn in hell and pay for all of the suffering you are causing Karma will get you someday we have no tolerance and will never have God is watching.

Ketchyperla
Ketchyperla

all of this people need to get eliminated the santeros are the lowest of the low same all of the meat eaters and animal killers they do ot deserve to exist.

Nikkipeanut
Nikkipeanut

My whole life i have wanted to save animals, i have seen and heard terrible things and i am disgusted with how some people treat them. These pictures and stories sicken me. Just as no human has the right to take another human's life- no human has the right to take an animal's life. They have done nothing to deserve this terrible end, whether it is in the name of one's religion or not. These "people" which i think the word "devils" would describe them better, need to be stopped and soon. This horrific treatment of God's beautiful creatures needs to end and these devils must pay. Thank you Richard for all you do, you are a very strong person and you shoud feel proud for each and every life you save.

Mgbjean
Mgbjean

I know other religion's have different belief's, mine is that Jesus Christ was crucified for US..You say that we should read up on Santeria and okay, I will but there is nothing in my mind that would say, "OH okay so they sacrafice chickens, goat, turtles and other for their belief. Even if you were taught this as to be okay, someting sooner or later will tell you animal's no matter what kind is not serving anything in a good way. Please open your minds and see the change that needs to be brought about by these senceless killing's . Also, you say these pic's are probably from teenager's, well we all know that is where the abuse starts with animals and what does that say to what your children are being taught by using animal's for a sacrafice, children are taught and it is very sad to think that this is part of a relgious belief. As we all will stand accountable one day....

Year In White
Year In White

I'm curious why there's so much focus on the Santeria aspect of this.

Even if this was somehow related to someone who practiced Santeria (or at least what they thought was Santeria), why does that matter? If they practiced another religion instead, would it change things any?

The issue is animal cruelty, which is illegal. Why focus on what religion the people involved may or may not practice? I mean, aside from the obvious chance to take advantage of people's fears and anger towards things they don't understand, of course...

If this was linked to members of the Jewish faith and Couto claimed this was associated with not-so-Kosher sacrifices, would it change things? Would that justify a bunch of antisemitism? No. So what makes Santeria so special?

Regardless of the reason behind animal cruelty, it's still illegal. Unless this is just a means of furthering some sort of Anti-Santeria campaign, why even bring that info it?

Focus on the people doing it, not some generalized stereotype...

D.
D.

I am Cuban~American however...this practice is not a religion but a cult and should not be protected by our constitution. If a new found so called religion surged and made a part of their practice human sacrifice..would that be allowed? Considered religion?..or simply a barberic cult?

Alvarezcarwash
Alvarezcarwash

well another Super Hero Skin-Head has born in Miami FL . F.T.P. Cuto .If you need weapons to enforce the law ,maybe you need a court order too ,x trespasing in a property & not be charge to ilegal enter in a private property . we recomended a better photo designer x your photo montage your dead goat have the neck cover & the turtles arent completed w/ legs & heads w/ not sing of decapitation or tortures ; To my understand this more looklike a some animals dead and ilegal dumped in a bushes area .. Note The Dog do not present any blood traces in the cover mayve this its a CRUEL PHOTO MONTAGE : MR Couto you look like a propaganda clow , your super vest armory its better in Irak , or war excenario not to Miami U.S.A.. Ani way you need be carefull some ones carry on a Egzuka Model "Ostrich2pound Blow" and made bul side in your face JAJAJAJAJA .You look so funy MR Super Hero . If you separate ,the ILEGAL SLAUGHTERS from religion , maive we pay more serious attention to you campaing SR . torture any thing its ilegal .Animals , Humans , Trees, are live organism that fell .

netherlands
netherlands

Out of all the religions in the world, all the things you can choose to believe in or do, you chose to believe that causing suffering to a another being, somehow is going to deliver you some relief from your own torment in your mind. How do you know your deranged belief is the only one that is true? You dont....What if it was exactly the opposite and whatever negative or positive influence you have in this world comes back to you in the end cumatively? We all dont know do we, that is the only truth.

valdes
valdes

Now, where are Richard's proof that these pictures belong to santeria practices? I don't see anything related to it. You need to have proof of that before making accusations.

Morganchristina
Morganchristina

I am absolutely discuted . This is america not some backwater place like haiti. keep up the good work richard

Jim
Jim

If this "activist" was serious about stopping the killing of huge numbers of animals by less-than-medieval methods, he would be protesting the slaughterhouses that feed millions of Americans each and every day. Unless you are vegan, you have no valid argument against the killing of animals, for ANY purpose that serves your own needs. A Santeria priest or priestess kills the animals used in a quick, humane manner. They are not tortured--that is simply a sensationalist attack on the religion. In fact, it would be a slap in the face to the Orishas that are worshipped to do so, and would be detrimental to the worshipper. In the 20 years I have been involved in the religion, I have seen anyone sacrifice a dog or cat.

If I see this guy around any of my religious celebrations, I will do what I can lawfully do. The police will be called, he will be held until they get there, and we will go on with our celebration.

Carolina
Carolina

Thanks for deleting my post. I will make sure I let everyone I know that you did so as well as my opinion on all of this.New Times used to be cool. What on earth happened to you guys???

Carolina
Carolina

I will only say this for now: New Times (as well as other media) need to start paying a little more attention to the trash they choose to highlight. It is disgraceful that so much publicity is given over to this goon who flouts the law at his convenience simply to make a little name for himself. In the process, defaming a religion he knows absolutely nothing about.You need to answer for yourselves.

Oshundayo
Oshundayo

Matthew OshunDayo Oquendo, AZI find it extremely challenging to understand how so-called media intellectuals report our traditions of the diaspora in such an Appalachian-hillbillyish manner.We demand fair, accurate and intelligent reporting.

Therod
Therod

This Couto is evedently a sick person with to much time on his hands.He is looking to hurt people with his lies and racism.Remember Richard these people are your ancestors too.You need to check your roots before you go to far.

Rockgirl68
Rockgirl68

This is absolutely disgusting and further proof that Miami is quickly becoming a Third World Nation. Freedom of religion is one thing, but Santeria is no religion. It's an excuse to commit horrible crimes against animals for NO reason (certainly not for food) other than to please some random saint. If you believe sooo much in this religion, you santeros should go ahead and just sacrifice yourselves. Less ignorance on the streets.

Animals have rights
Animals have rights

I have known Richard for almost 30 years of my life. I know 2 things to be true, 1. He would never make unsubstantiated claims without proof to back it up, 2. He does NOT risk his life for fame and fortune, but instead to save the lives of these animals who so badly need a voice.There is no excuse why animals should be tortured for the sake of religion in this day and age. Absolutely no excuse. Where is the respect for these animals after they have made the ultimate sacrifice? It surely is not in a trash bag dumped by the side of the road. If these animals are SO important to someone in their beliefs in their religion, what is so difficult in treating them with the same importance after they have given their life by at least giving them a proper burial???To the person who comments on the large amount of animal abuse in our country, from illegal slaughters, to the quality of life of animals slated for death for our supermarkets, I ask, what are you out there doing about it? One man can only do so much to protect these animals. Unless you are also out there in the trenches, wearing bulletproof vests, and carrying ammo to protect yourself, what gives you the right to shun Richard's hard work and dedication?We as animal activists do everything we can to protect these animals, only to be thwarted by laws which only protect the animals who abuse these creatures. This needs to change. I challenge someone to find me a dozen names of sick serial killers who did not sacrifice, and torture animals at a young age. By keeping these killings legal for "religion" now we are just giving them an excuse to be able to practice, before they are "skilled" enough to move on to our friends, neighbors, and families. Let's look at the big picture here. This is not the example that should be set for our children. We should not live in a society where the malicious, inhumane killing of animals is condoned or excused for any reason. Religous or not.

Digitalnicolas
Digitalnicolas

If yo are going to sacrify anything just do it among your self !!! Leave the animals Alone!!!Stupid Idiots!!!!

Mrshawlady
Mrshawlady

this is not freedom of religion, it is animal abuse, pure and simple. these people are heathans and this is torture..these creatures have fears, and pain and do have a brain,,,,,imagine the terror if it was you.....it needs to stop.

avian1
avian1

@Byanes6974 

Your "rights" end when you abuse other life forms - PERIOD.

It's not about "freedom of speech."

It's not "art."

What it is, however, is pathological behaviour fomented by willful ignorance and stupidity.  Your position, trying to justify killing, is no different than the idiots in CHINA who "think" that drinking ground up rhino horn will give the a big erection, meanwhile, they happily exterminate any rhino they can get their hands on to procure this useless hocus pocus nonsense.

We do NOT care about your "religion" whatsoever.  We DO care about how you act, however.  If you don't like just criticism of your behaviour - CHANGE.

You act as if you have a right to brutalize and kill innocent lives because you "believe" this will somehow help you.  That makes you no different than the Islamist who think that beating and raping women is acceptable to "keep them in their place."  

Are you sure you want to keep defending atrocious, violent, aggressive and ignorant behaviours?  Are you sure you want to try to justify that?  

Really?

Seriously??

NotaRetard
NotaRetard

FACT: You need to respect your first-world neighbors and quit fucking littering OUR streets with your sick shit. WE will not back down.

avian1
avian1

@Souris Newsflash:  Kosher slaughter is NOT humane.  All kosher means is that it's been ritually blessed.  It has nothing to do with "humane" slaughter, namely because there is no such thing.  Being hung upside down and having your throat slit to bleed out is NOT "humane," it's painful and the animals don't want to die.  Get your facts straight.

Jim
Jim

I have to presume, Mr. Mgbjean, that you are a vegan. After all, if you are not, you still use animal products in your life. You wear leather, you eat meat. How do you think these animals end up on your table at night? Or on your feet as shoes? I am against the torture of ANY animal. It is illegal and immoral. Santeria does not involve animal torture AT ALL. Just like Jewish people can't eat meat that isn't kosher, people who follow Santeria eat the meat, once it has been killed and blessed. There are no cats and dogs used in Santeria. If a person called themself a Christian, but actually created their own rules and laws, and called is Christianity, that doesn't make it Christianity! Hate anyone who tortures animals, no doubt, but don't hate a religion just because you don't understand it.

Johnny(Ochossi)
Johnny(Ochossi)

Mr.D,Again you must feel your cuban background is immune from Santeria RELIGION, Your country like mine has a beautiful and historical sense of practitioners that taught the very religion you critisize! You have a blurred sense of history, Where do you think your families origins come from? America. I leave it to your insane imagination. Thank goodness you weren't born 400 years ago! evidence precedes you! You need to read more before making unsubstantiated claims!!!

Year In White
Year In White

Freedom of religion does not mean the ability to break the law. Santeria or not, if there is evidence of animal cruelty, that person has broken the law and should be punished.

I think we're in agreement about that.

In cases of animal sacrifice within Santeria (which this does NOT seem to be), the people performing those rituals are not all that different from any farmer that kills his livestock to feed his family. They are doing what they have to and have respect for the animal And it's still better than those who would kill defenseless animals for sport, like with hunting.

I'm not asking for anyone to change how they feel about whether animal sacrifice is right or wrong. I'm just trying to help you understand where we're coming from...

If you see no distinction between an animal that is killed quickly and humanely for a religious ceremony and one that is legitimately abused and tortured, I don't know what else to say. The Supreme Court sides with Santeria on the matter.

It seems odd, though, that you seem more interested in attacking the religion rather than focusing on the animals that have been killed.

I mean, do you seriously believe Couto's guess that "90 percent" of the dogs at some puppy mill are truly going to be used for Santeria? Why is it easier to believe that the people killing animals in this way are all involved with Santeria than just accepting that it might be people like the ones from the previously mentioned horse meat slaughterhouses that are killing these animals?

And, maybe it's just me, but it seems like out of all of the people who have come forward on here about being involved in Santeria, none have condoned the animal cruelty mentioned in the article or in the pictures posted or made an excuse for it.

I totally support Richard Couto if he wants to go after people who are inhumanely killing animals. It's the whole attacking Santeria thing that I'm offended by.

Ethnocentric comments like yours certainly don't help matters much, either.

avian1
avian1

@Alvarezcarwash And your little paragraph full of grammatical errors is quite amusing, too.  He's doing something to mitigate violence, aggression, and injury to other species.  

What are YOU doing to help?  Probably nothing but running your mouth, huh.  Figures.

Shadyladymiami
Shadyladymiami

Animals are dumped, including 2 slaughtered horses, by Cubans who drive by our house here in the Redlands ALL THE TIME. No photoshop needed, I have pix on my phone which are just as graphic.Sadists are sadists and cruelty is illegal. These people are criminals and need to be locked up and the key tossed into the bay. Sadists are not safe around our children OR our pets. That so called religion is more like the sexual gratification that a sadist gets when he gets to view suffering. We have for some incomprehensible reason, allowed this to become legal torture of animals. Would anyone want any person that gets his rocks off during some disgusting ceremony, anywhere near our children?

This needs to be challenged again, and taken back to the Supreme Court and the light shown on any Justice who says this is 'religion'. I am sure God loves Sadists?! NOT! Maybe Satan, if he exists, is getting his rocks off at the same time these 'practicioners' are! If that is the case, they should be clear about who their religion is worshipping!

Yeyefini
Yeyefini

Vegan 1I just want to know how does Richard feel about the slaughtering of fish, beef,poultry,hogs,buffalo, and other meats that he eats fit into this equation.

Year In White
Year In White

I applaud your convictions. You're right. This is America. We should do away with Freedom of Religion! It's holding us back!

err.... wait....

Therod
Therod

You can be disgusted all you want.This has been going on for thousands of years.Since before recorded time,so I dont think ole richy boy is going to put much of a dent in this issue.Sooner or later he will get tire and find some other group annoy and eventually fade away..

avian1
avian1

@Jim Really?  And you don't think that what he's doing is just that - a protest against the way humans treat other species?

Open you eyes and you mind - there are more ways to protest than just at slaughterhouses, and what he is doing demonstrates as much.

Carolina
Carolina

ok. my bad..still there...but you guys still have alot to answer for.

Digitalnicolas
Digitalnicolas

WTF Are you talking about!!!!!! What ancestors!!!!! What this people do is just sick!!!! they should be put in jail!!!! IDIOT

Therod
Therod

Wow.Jahovas witness is not a religion either and control their people.Heck they are prohibited from getting blood products and at times have died because of a false belief. you need to read about the true santeria.

Carolina
Carolina

Third World Nation? Screw you. Amerikka is not the bastion of moral rectitude.Killing animals for food and religious is as old as time. Nothing inherently wrong with it. Sorry.

Siren144
Siren144

That is precisely why it is so obvious that these were not Santeria sacrifices, we do not treat animals that way. We don't sacrifice them and just throw them away.

UmaUmoja1
UmaUmoja1

i'm assuming you are a vegetarian???

Shadyladymiami
Shadyladymiami

Why else would a puppy mill have a bunch of mutts breeding? Helllllo? What planet do you live on! THAT should be shut down immediately and I will contact Couto with the rest of us suffering under the horrendous conditions for animals that our shameful Commissioners have allowed to go on for so long here in Dade County and hope with many hundreds of us supporting him, we can put in jail such evil people... yes, right alongside the horse slaughterers. And I hope while in jail they meet up with an animal lover that gives them all a taste of their own medicine! One can only pray to that Old Testament God of fire and brimstone that criminals who prey on the defenseless get everything they deserve, and sooner rather than later.

Therod
Therod

Carolina!!!!Your good and know what you are talking about.When I feed Elegueba I will ask for your safety and wisdom.Be safe.Luv you.

Concerned
Concerned

Carolina, obsession and religion are always a bad combination. All religion has its good side and its bad side. Some people use religion to start wars, to bomb buildings, to steal from simple people their earnings, to abuse children and other things. Those things happen in many types of religions. I come from a country where Santeria was also practiced and, it happens;the killing and torture of animals happens. Is there really enough reason to think that killing an animal for practice of rituals is a good thing? I dont think is every santeria practitioner but, there are many that do. The good thing about religion is taking the good side of it ( the one that makes you a better person) and use it in your life and, the bad part, you discard it. The problem is that many people dont do that and, dont even question the bad side of it.

You made comments before about people that eat meat. yes, I do eat meat. I have tried to stop it but, i couldnt. I understand that for most people stop eating meat is very hard. We are conscious of the way the animals for our consumption are treated and we are trying to change that. We fight for them to have a better life where they are raised, a more natural life,a life with respect, and an humane last day. i do believe we just want a better world for all , including all living beings. We dont want to condemn a religion but the use or torture of animals in sacrifices in any religion.

Johnny "Ochossi"
Johnny "Ochossi"

You must be a very intelligent person to think that you were spawned here from another planet! I guess you have no parents or grandparents!. Do you know what the word generation means? America would not have existed if it were not for your ancestors or did they not teach you that in school?

Therod
Therod

You have good insight and speak well and you are right.Im puerto rican and I would find it really hard to stop eating roast pork with rice and beans.Every religion has its traditions and needs.We as people need to look at all sides of these things and educate ourselves.In cambodia every year abull is sacraficed for the new year.Maybe Richard can go over there and protest and see how long he would last.

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