Timeline of Developments Following PETA’s Investigation Into NIH-Funded Malaria Laboratories in Colombia

PETA conducted an exhaustive 18-month investigation into the organizations owned and operated by Sócrates Herrera Valencia and Myriam Arévalo Ramírez, a husband-and-wife team of malaria experimenters who have received more than $17 million in U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding since 2003.

Our investigation—based on in-depth interviews with former employees and troves of documents—into the Caucaseco Scientific Research Center, the Primate Center Foundation (FUCEP), and other organizations headed by Herrera and Arévalo uncovered questionable business practices, lack of required permits, egregious violations of animal care and use guidelines, alleged mishandling of human samples, lack of properly established committees to oversee experiments on humans and other animals, and alleged work and sexual harassment.

Prompted by our investigation, authorities in Colombia suspended the couple’s experiments, seized all the animals who were imprisoned in their laboratories, and have begun numerous legal proceedings against the experimenters. After remaining silent for months while Colombian authorities acted, NIH has finally stated that it “has opened an investigation regarding the allegations sent by PETA.”

Below is a timeline of events in the case.

December 21, 2022: PETA provides NIH and Colombian authorities with compelling information about apparent wrongdoing by Herrera and Arévalo.

January 7, 2023: The Colombian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation announces an investigation into Herrera and Arévalo’s alleged failure to meet standards of scientific integrity.

January 19, 2023: The regional environmental authority, Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC), brings legal action against Herrera and Arévalo based on the findings of an inspection performed at their primate facility on January 16, which included a dead baby monkey and a monkey who was missing an eye.

February 17, 2023: The CVC rescues 108 monkeys who were imprisoned at Herrera and Arévalo’s facility. The authorities examine the monkeys and find old fractures, amputations, missing eyes and teeth, patches of hairless skin, necrosis, and parasites.

February 17, 2023: The Colombian Office of the Attorney General makes public its investigation into Caucaseco and FUCEP for, among other things, apparent crimes against animals’ physical and emotional integrity, illegal capture and breeding of these animals, and a lack of permits since 2012 to experiment on monkeys.

February 21, 2023: The Colombian Office of the Comptroller General confirms that it will carry out an audit of the Colombian government agency that has funded Herrera and Arévalo’s operations for decades.

March 2, 2023: A judge denies Herrera and Arévalo’s request to dismiss the CVC’s case against them.

March 13, 2023: The City of Cali, Colombia, announces legal actions against Caucaseco for cruelty to animals.

March 16, 2023: The City of Cali’s secretary of safety and justice shuts down the entire Caucaseco facility for failing to meet sanitary and safety requirements.

March 23, 2023: The CVC issues a new ruling confirming its legal action against Herrera and Arévalo.

April 3, 2023: The City of Cali rescues 180 mice from Caucaseco.

April 26, 2023: A higher court upholds the March 2 decision that denied Herrera and Arévalo’s request to dismiss the case brought against them by the CVC.

May 19, 2023: The CVC brings charges against Herrera and Arévalo.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind