He said some butchers in Miami have stolen frozen horse meat in their stores for trustworthy customers. Sometimes the meat is sold in neighborhoods out of coolers.See also They Kill Horses, Don't They? (Mexicans, That Is.) and Hispanic enrichment and Florida horses, more recently by Patrick Cleburne.
The meat sells for $10-$20 a pound depending on the cut. It can be as high as $40 a pound when supply is short.
Couto said some Miami restaurants serve horse meat, which is considered to be sweeter, less fatty and higher in protein than beef. In European countries such as France, Italy and Belgium, the meat is seen as a delicacy.
It is also eaten widely in Central and South America, where it is believed to have medicinal value, Couto said.
Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, said much of the demand is likely from Cubans immigrating to South Florida.
Beef is a rarity in Cuba, so Cubans often turn to equine dishes such as tasajo, which is made with cured horse meat.
However, people from many other Latin American and Caribbean countries also live in Florida.
"It may be Haitians," Suchlicki said. "There are a lot of Nicaraguans in Miami. A lot of Argentines." South Florida sees rise in illegal horse meat market, By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY