A worker allegedly caught on videotape abusing pigs at a North Carolina slaughterhouse was charged Tuesday with six counts of animal cruelty.

Elio Miguel Marrero is believed to be among a number of workers reportedly filmed mistreating pigs at Murphy Family Ventures, which supplies pork to industry giant Smithfield Foods.

The Sampson County District attorney's office charged Marrero with six misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in five separate cases, according to the North Carolina Courts Web site.

The district attorney could not immediately be reached for comment, and specifics of the animal cruelty case against Marrero were not available. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 12 to face the charges.

Several employees of the farm were fired after details of the investigation were revealed last fall. It wasn't immediately known whether Marrero was among those terminated.

The alleged abuse came to light after an investigator from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization, got a job at the slaughterhouse and secretly videotaped workers apparently beating and dragging swine with a metal prod, castrating the babies without painkillers and gouging out their eyes.

Employees were also caught boasting about their abuse. A supervisor is heard bragging that he "cut the sh-- out of [a pig's] goddamn nose with a f---ing gate rod."

PETA released the footage late last year.


Marrero, of North Carolina, is believed to be among several Murphy Family Ventures employees allegedly caught on camera mistreating the pigs. PETA said he is one of the workers seen dragging animals by the ear and striking them with an iron prod.

A second man could also face animal cruelty charges by the Sampson County district attorney's office if he is apprehended.

"We applaud the district attorney for taking this case seriously and enforcing North Carolina's anti-cruelty laws," said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. It is rare for slaughterhouse workers to be criminally prosecuted, as in this case.

Murphy Family Ventures owns pig-breeding farms that supply Smithfield Foods, the country's largest pork producer.

Smithfield has come under fire before for human rights violations and the hiring of illegal workers.