Elio Miguel Marrero, a worker at a Murphy Family Ventures contract hog farm, has been charged with six counts of cruelty to animals. Murphy Family Ventures is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

The charges come after an investigation triggered by a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals undercover videotape showing Marrero's actions on the farm. The PETA investigator, worked at a Murphy facility in Garland, N.C., from Sept. 13 to Nov. 2, 2007. PETA turned the video over to the Sampson County district attorney this spring.

On the video, Marreno is shown hitting and jabbing sows with metal gate rods, there also was some footage of pigs being dragged by their snouts, ears and legs. Some of the discussion that is audible on the tape is certainly in questionable taste, and suggests other mistreatments. Also on the videotape, but presented in an uneducated and exploited manner is the practice of tail docking and the castration of male piglets. 

Apparently a second worker, who is no longer in the state, also will face cruelty-to-animals charges based on the video footage and other evidence from the investigation if he is returned to North Carolina.

"We applaud the district attorney for taking this case seriously and enforcing North Carolina's anti-cruelty laws," says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. "Pigs are as sensitive and intelligent as dogs, and they deserve better than to be treated like punching bags."

To view the video footage, go to www.PETA.org.