MADISON, WIS. – A Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin man was sentenced today for knowingly causing the creation, sale, and distribution of an obscene animal crush video, in violation of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (“PACT Act”). U.S. District Judge William M. Conley sentenced Kenneth Herrera, 40, to a year and a day in prison and a $5,000 fine. Herrera will serve three years of supervised release following the prison sentence.
The PACT Act makes it illegal to create or distribute depictions of “animal crushing” that will be sold or distributed internationally or between states. Animal crushing includes burning, suffocating, impaling, or causing the serious bodily injury of animals. Herrera pleaded guilty to this charge on September 15, 2023.
As part of an investigation titled “Operation Dry Eyes,” agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation learned about an individual, later identified as Herrera, who ordered videos depicting animal crushing from an international videographer. Specifically, USFWS and FBI agents uncovered evidence that, in December 2021, Herrera sent money to a videographer in Indonesia in exchange for a video of a monkey being physically abused. Herrera sent detailed instructions to the videographer asking that the monkey be physically abused in specific violent ways. The videographer complied with these requests and sent the video to Herrera via an encrypted messaging application.
In sentencing Herrera, Judge Conley remarked on the abhorrent nature of the video and pointed out that Herrera did not just view the video but played a role in its production.
“Video recordings of animal torture are cruel, inhumane, and illegal,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea. “Evidence shows that animal torture can be a precursor to other violent crimes. Our office will work with law enforcement, domestically and internationally, to investigate and prosecute all crimes of this nature.”
“The primary mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and our specific role in the Office of Law Enforcement, is to protect all wildlife from being unlawfully commercialized, in whatever form we find it. The heinous crimes against wildlife that are centered in this investigation are an extreme example of that commitment. The success of this case is a direct result of our partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Assistant Director Edward Grace of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement.
“The FBI stands resolute in our dedication to working with our federal and international partners to address animal cruelty violations,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Hensle. “We view the sentence handed down in this case under the Animal Crushing Statue not only as a measure of justice served, but also as a deterrent against future violations. We appreciate the opportunity to work with our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Wisconsin on this investigation and will continue to rigorously enforce the laws designed to prevent such heinous acts.”
If you are aware of animal cruelty, please report it to law enforcement. You can also call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-844-FWS-TIPS or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.