Meet Cris Dorado Aguirre, “El Lodo,” and Angel Ramirez, “El Barro.”
(Both nicknames translate to “mud.”)
JOLIET, Illinois––Who was the more brazen at recent charreada “Mexican style” rodeos held in Will County, Illinois:
• Horse-beater Cris Dorado Aguirre, caught repeatedly in the act on video by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] drones on July 30, 2023; or
• Drone pilot Angel Ramirez, who apparently tried to “protect” abusive charros from Showing Animals Respect & Kindness surveillance on August 14, 2023 by crashing his drone into the SHARK drone?
See and judge for yourself at https://youtu.be/xq5HGbX12XM.
The sky is not the place to play El Pollo
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi managed to land the damaged SHARK drone safely, but as he pointed out by telephone to ANIMALS 24-7 immediately afterward, even slightly more damage to the rear starboard propeller could have caused the drone to spin out of the control.
The same might have happened with a less experienced pilot than Hindi, flying drones since 2005 and other types of aircraft for decades before taking up drone flying.
Illegally low passes
Though the SHARK drone was hundreds of yards away from the charreada crowd, using powerful lens to pull in the action, if damaged beyond control it could have crashed into the crowd.
Ramirez’s drone, making repeated illegally low passes over the crowd, often hovering over the crowd at low altitude apparently to capture the faces of dancers and members of a mariachi band, and even landing on the roof of a taco truck at one point, was at significant risk of crashing into people for much of the afternoon.
And that was before Ramirez rammed his small drone into the much larger SHARK drone at high speed, after buzzing the SHARK drone without provoking any response.
Big sombrero cannot hide horse abuse
Both Cris Dorado Aguirre and Angel Ramirez appear to have imagined they could not be identified, Aguirre hiding his face beneath an outsized straw sombrero and Ramirez perhaps not realizing that the SHARK lenses could pick out his probably bogus drone registration number and could identify his drone controller at a considerable distance.
As ANIMALS 24-7 detailed in Beating a live horse: who calls rodeo performers to account for doing it?, the gratuitous violence demonstrated by Cris Dorado Aguirre at the July 30, 2023 charreada was so far beyond even the brutal charreada norms that Hindi excerpted from the SHARK video of the entire event a three-minute-and-51-second clip of his behavior during the steer-tailing competition.
“Most horrible thing I have ever seen done to a horse by a rider”
Observed Beth Clifton of ANIMALS 24-7, from her perspective as a former longtime horse owner and rider, as a former Miami Beach mounted police officer, and as a cruelty investigator, “It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen done to a horse by someone on a horse’s back.”
Neither Beth nor the Showing Animals Respect & Kindness team stopped there. Using clues revealed by the SHARK drone photos, Beth and the SHARK team did not rest until the identity of Cris Dorado Aguirre was established well enough to file cruelty complaints at both the local and state levels.
“We didn’t think he was going to do something crazy”
Angel Ramirez showed up at the La Herradura De Joliet charreada two weeks later. A SHARK investigator identified him, from suspicious behavior, as a person of probable interest almost immediately, before he had his drone out and flying
Then his drone came out.
“It was a Mavic, not a bad drone, but small,” Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7.
“He hit us from the rear starboard side. That’s where a propeller is broken. We know it was deliberate because he circled around to come at us from behind.”
“He flew around our drone before hitting us, so we got a good look with our cameras. We thought he was flying too close, because even if you’re not trying to hit something, things can go sideways, literally, with a gust of wind, but we didn’t think the pilot was going to do something crazy. Once a drone is damaged, you don’t know how well it will fly or where it is going to land, so doing what he did could have been very dangerous.”
Landed on a taco truck, but drones eat batteries
“He landed on a commercial vehicle. It looked like a food truck. We got the license plate,” Hindi said.
Hindi reported a whole lot more than that to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has regulatory authority over drones.
“On Sunday, August 13, 2023,” Hindi began, “I was flying my drone outside a rodeo, La Herradura De Joliet, which is located at 18225 Briggs Street, Joliet, IL 60432. The purpose was to document animal cruelty and violations of Illinois state humane laws.
“In the early afternoon, a DJI Mavic 3 drone flew toward my team in a way we felt was designed to intimidate.”
Six video links show what Ramirez’s drone did
At this point Hindi attached the first of six video links demonstrating what Ramirez’s drone did.
“The drone left, and I continued to document the rodeo,” Hindi wrote. “At approximately 3:30 p.m., my drone was hovering in the same place, approximately 100 feet in altitude, at approximate coordinates of 41.5540, -880448. This is where the drone was used for most of the day.
“While [the SHARK drone was] hovering in that position,” Hindi recounted, “the other drone again came from the rodeo property, flying directly at my drone, clipping it,” as illustrated by another SHARK video.
“Although one propeller was partially sheared off,” Hindi explained, “I was able to bring my drone back for a safe landing. The collision was captured by a ground camera attached to a parked vehicle.
“My drone can be seen hovering in the upper left hand portion of the screen ahead of the contact. After the strike,” Hindi narrated, “the offending drone headed back toward the rodeo, as can be seen in the video.
“Launched a different drone”
“A short time later, I launched a different drone to continue documenting the rodeo. Soon a drone identical to the one that struck my drone appeared. The drone was flown very low over the large open-air gathering of people at the rodeo,” as the second SHARK drone documented at length.
“At one point, the pilot of the drone was observed landing his drone on top of a van after flying over the open-air gathering,” Hindi recounted, omitting that several other times the drone in question appeared to be within a few feet of flying into the mouth of a mariachi band member’s tuba.
“Because the drone pilot was on the property of the rodeo,” Hindi told the FAA, “and extensively flew over the people at the rodeo, it seems certain that the pilot had the permission of the rodeo management, and perhaps was hired by the rodeo.
“The Matrice 350 I was flying was equipped with a H20 camera,” Hindi explained, “which is capable of high magnification. At one point, I took my best shot at filming the offending drone close-up, including the drone’s registration number: FA30NKE7RWFT. That identification has two characters more than it should, so it would appear that the registration is fake.”
Hindi sent the Federal Aviation Administration and ANIMALS 24-7 a video clip showing the probably bogus registration number.
“The days following the incident have been spent trying to track down the pilot,” Hindi recounted. “I looked on YouTube for video footage that might have been posted of La Herradura De Joliet, the rodeo location, and found content that had been shot and uploaded by AngelsViewPhotography,” as did Beth Clifton of ANIMALS 24-7 in her own separate, independent investigation.
“Flying directly over many people”
“In this video,” Hindi pointed out, “you can clearly see that the drone is flying directly over many people.
“The YouTube account led to a Facebook account,” Hindi continued, “which includes an image of the pilot, Angel Ramirez, and his drone, which bears the same fake registration [number] as the drone we saw on August 13, 2023.
“It should be noted,” Hindi mentioned, “that we obtained a Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Capability permit to fly in airspace near the rodeo because of its proximity to Lewis University Airport. I certainly doubt Mr, Ramirez obtained the required authorization.
“In conclusion,” Hindi wrapped up, “Ramirez likely does not have a Part 107 certificate,” also known as a drone pilot’s license, “has a fake registration number on his drone, may be paid for his services,” meaning he should be licensed as a commercial operator, “probably did not obtain an authorization to fly in controlled airspace, flew very low over a large open-air gathering, and most significantly, intentionally rammed my drone.
“I look forward to hearing from you about this important matter,” Hindi finished.
Meanwhile, the SHARK drones also documented horse-tripping practiced as part of La Herradura De Joliet. Horse-tripping is a traditional part of Mexican charreada, but is explicitly illegal in Illinois, as in at least eight other U.S. states, including California and Colorado.
The SHARK video of horse-tripping, including the use of a dog to chase at least one injured horse into a corral, has also been forwarded to the appropriate authorities.
ANIMALS 24-7, and SHARK, of course, hope to hear that action is being taken against the horse-trippers.
Whether or not the Illinois authorities act, however, the horse-trippers need not imagine they will not be identified and “outed” too, as have been Cris Dorado Aguirre, “El Lodo” and Angel Ramirez, “El Barro,” we hope to their embarrassment and the shame of their colleagues.