COLUMBIA --- Georgia authorities said Wednesday they will extradite family members of a suspended South Carolina agriculture department official to face animal cruelty charges there.
The brother and mother of Assistant Agriculture Commissioner James Trexler will be taken to Georgia today, Jefferson County, Ga., sheriff's deputy Jimmy Kitchens said.
Terry Trexler and his mother, Hazelene Trexler, each face 30 charges of animal cruelty, and 25 counts of moving horses that had been quarantined, Deputy Kitchens said.
James Trexler is charged in a separate case in South Carolina. No attorneys for the family have commented.
Last week, 23 horses were discovered on South Carolina properties leased by Hazelene and Terry Trexler. Five more were on James Trexler's property, where he lives.
Sheriff Leon Lott said Monday that authorities had seized an additional 17 horses linked to the Trexlers from a Richland County property.
In October, Georgia investigators found about 70 Arabian horses on parched land about 40 miles from Augusta, Deputy Kitchens said.
Authorities placed all the horses under quarantine until Terry and Hazelene Trexler could show that none of the horses had tested positive for equine infectious anemia, a highly infectious and potentially fatal viral disease, he said.
But the Trexlers and their horses disappeared. Twenty-five of the malnourished horses discovered on South Carolina land leased or owned by the Trexlers have been identified as animals that had been held in Georgia, based on photographs taken of the animals, Deputy Kitchens said.
The Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has been caring for the animals, says none of the original 23 horses seized have tested positive for the disorder.
The Trexlers also are facing charges in South Carolina. Hazelene Trexler is charged with 28 counts of ill treatment to animals, Terry Trexler faces 23 similar counts, and James Trexler is charged with five counts.