Home | BaltimoreBrew.com
The Dripby Mark Reutter2:08 pmDec 22, 20140

22 indicted in Baltimore-based dogfighting ring

Blood-stained rings, weighted collars, heavy chains and other instruments of torture found along with firearms and cash in police raids

Nearly two dozen men have been indicted as part of an illegal dogfighting ring that employed breaking sticks, heavy chains, harnesses and other instruments of torture to breed, train and fight the animals.

The indictment alleges “a sprawling conspiracy” dating back to April 2013, when several alleged members of the Baltimore-based ring were linked to a dogfighting bust in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

The city state’s attorney’s office, who announced today’s indictments, said that 139 dogs, mostly pitbulls and including 28 puppies, had been recovered from individuals prior to recent police raids.

Those search and seizure raids – 14 executed in Baltimore City, two in Baltimore County and one in West Virginia – recovered another 86 dogs, eight firearms, $70,000 in cash and a marijuana-growing operation.

Police also recovered bloodstained rings, breaking sticks and chains, conditioning harnesses and breeding stands referred to by dogfighters as “rape stands” – all used to facilitate the breeding, training and fighting of dogs.

Blood Sport for Profit

Dogfighting is an underground criminal enterprise where dogs are systematically bred, conditioned and trained to engage in violent combat for entertainment and financial gain.

A central feature of this blood sport is the illegal placement of wagers in which the total purse among spectators can be $100,000 and higher, with individual cash bets of $25,000.

Dogfighting rings transcend state borders, prosecutors say, and participants regularly travel outside of Maryland to procure and deliver dogs and to attend the fights.

Dogs who survive the contests often succumb to complications from injuries sustained during the fights. To increase the chances of winning the match — and to maximize the profits from gambling on dogs — professional rings typically employ conditioning methods designed to make dogs more aggressive, vicious and lethal.

For example, dogs are compelled to wear weighted collars and heavy chains, are treated with steroids and other medications, and are trained in extreme weather conditions or on treadmills modified to push the animals to their physical limits.

Dogfighting rings also typically avoid licensed sources of veterinary care, for fear of being caught, and administer shots, vaccines and prescription medicines that are stolen – and perform surgical procedures in substandard conditions.

Criminal Records

“The indictment announced today hopefully will protect innocent and vulnerable animals from further abuse and reduce violent criminal activity that adversely impacts our community,” said State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.

Seventeen of the 22 defendants indicted have criminal records.

Eight have been convicted of crimes of violence, five for handgun violations, two for sex offenses and one has a prior murder conviction, according to prosecutors.

The defendants range in age from 23 to 75.

Most Popular