Two men have been charged with more than 100 counts of animal cruelty in connection with a Lake Elsinore breeding facility where thousands of rodents and reptiles had to be euthanized because of the conditions inside.
Mitchell Steven Behm, 54, and David Delgado, 29, have each been charged with 106 counts of animal cruelty after a two-month undercover sting by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals revealed the conditions at Global Captive Breeders.
Behm owns Global Captive Breeders and was arrested Friday at his home in Orange County; he was freed on bail Saturday.
Delgado, who worked as a manager, was arrested at his Rialto home Friday and remains in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Riverside County.
Prosecutors charged Delgado with 11 additional felonies for allegedly personally torturing or killing rodents.
According to prosecutors, a member of PETA worked at the facility for two months and witnessed the conditions firsthand and notified authorities. The Lake Elsinore facility was raided in December.
The snakes were so emaciated that their ribs bulged out. Tubs and freezers inside were filled with carcasses, according to investigators. In a statement after authorities raided the facility in December, PETA said workers there shot at animals with BB guns, froze some alive and bludgeoned animals they wanted to kill.
The conditions were so “toxic” inside that the animals found alive had to be euthanized, officials said. More than 15,000 rodents and 500 reptiles were found dead or had to be euthanized, prosecutors said.