Rescuers recovered sixty-six dogs from a suspected interstate dog fighting ring.
The nine people accused of forcing these dog fighting have been charged with felonies by the Feds, with each facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The bust is part of what’s called “Operation Grand Champion,” an anti-dog fighting campaign across multiple jurisdictions, that the Feds say is just getting started.
The term “grand champion” refers to a dog who has won five fights — and if we’re not sure how we feel about this operation’s name, we sure like what it’s aiming to accomplish.
Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement:
Dog fighting is truly an organized criminal activity, as well as a deplorable trade in the suffering of animals. This case marks the beginning of a coordinated effort at the Department of Justice to meet organized dog fighting head-on with a strategic, aggressive federal response.
Criminal complaints have been filed against the defendants, six of whom live in New Jersey, the others are from Indiana, Illinois, and New Mexico. They are Anthony “Monte” Gaines, who was already in jail on unrelated charges, Justin Love, Lydell Harris, Mario Atkinson, Frank Nichols, Tiffany Burt, Dajwan Ware, Pedro Cuellar, and Robert Arellano.
These nine defendants are accused of “transporting, delivering, buying, selling, receiving and possessing pit bull-type dogs for dog fighting ventures and conspiring to commit these acts in New Jersey and elsewhere throughout the United States,” according to the Department of Justice. The charges encompass activity starting in October 2015, violated the Animal Welfare Act — a federal law that makes it a crime to transport dogs between states, for the purpose of fighting.