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NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

DALLAS It was a disgusting discovery when pigs blood was found flowing into Oak Cliff's Cedar Creek, eventually emptying into the Trinity River.

A grand jury indicted the Columbia Packing Co. and its executives on felony charges, but News 8 has now learned why those charges were recently dropped.

Sources say an investigator who took some of the initial photographs of the bloody water in December 2011 was trespassing. He waded through the tainted Cedar creek and across the invisible property line that runs down its center.

Columbia did not have a fence around the part of its property where the blood was being discharged.

The search warrant which would have legally allowed the images to be taken wasn't signed until a month later.

But no one caught the discrepancy, and the investigation continued.

The City of Dallas and Dallas County spent thousands of dollars on research; sent remote-controlled cameras inside pipes; tested water samples; and built a criminal case.

What remains unclear is why it took prosecutors so long to discover the initial investigative mistake that one of their earliest pieces of evidence was likely captured illegally from the bloody banks of Cedar Creek.

Sources said the illegal search in the high-profile case posed problems for prosecutors, and led Dallas County's district attorney to drop the charges.

The DA's office had no official comment Wednesday night, but sources told News 8 that there could be an internal investigation into how this happened.

WFAA's Tanya Eiserer, Rebecca Lopez, and Jason Trahan contributed to this report

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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