A man from Tallahassee, Florida, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on June 4 for drug trafficking and facilitating a large dog fighting ring in the Florida Panhandle from 2018 to 2019.
Jermaine Handley, 32, was the man sentenced, and 21 other defendants have also been arrested and charged with drug trafficking and dogfighting.
Federal court documents state that Hadley led a drug trafficking operation that supplied several suppliers in Texas, Louisiane, and Georgia, where he and his co-conspirators distributed illegal drugs.
His drug distribution network involved people who were part of the 424 criminal street gang in Gadsden County, Florida. Also, Hadley and the other defendants conducted many dogfighting matches where the animals often had to fight to the death. Participants paid to watch the dogfights and bet on the outcomes.
The federal investigation resulted in law enforcement seizing several kilograms of illegal drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Also seized were large amounts of US currency and several firearms.
The operation also resulted in the rescue and rehabilitation of at least 100 dogs.
US Attorney Condemns Both Drug Trafficking And Animal Cruelty
Acting US Attorney Jason Coody noted after Hadley was sentenced that he was pleased that the criminal had been held accountable for armed drug trafficking and ‘horrific’ acts of animal cruelty that he organized. He added that abusing animals for profit is illegal, inhumane, and is always aggressively prosecuted by federal authorities.
Florida law enforcement noted that Hadley can no longer distribute illegal drugs or harm innocent dogs. Because of the strong law enforcement collaboration in this federal case, towns in the Florida Panhandle will be less affected by drug trafficking, dog fighting, and other gang-related criminal activities.
Other Federal Dogfighting Charges Being Prosecuted Around US
Unfortunately, dog fighting still happens around the country, and not only in Florida. More recent dogfighting federal cases are below.
In Richmond, Virginia, four people pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and dogfighting charges for their roles in a dogfighting networked that spanned Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, and New Jersey.
The four defendants participated in several dog fighting rings between 2013 and 2018.
In 2016, for example, three of the defendants met with others in King George, Virginia, and drove to a fight location. The men participated in a dog fight where there were two separate fights with different handlers and dogs.
Odell Anderson, 52, pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to violate animal fighting prohibitions described in the Animal Welfare Act and several other federal charges.
In Macon, Georgia, three men also pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges, with each of them receiving up to five years in federal prison.
The lead defendant in the federal case, James Lampkin, 46, is still awaiting trial for the federal charges of violating the Animal Welfare Act, as well as 63 counts of training and possessing dogs for animal fighting.
This charge is related to a March 2017 arrest when federal agents seized 63 dogs that were chained in the backyard of Lampkin’s home.
Federal agents began to respond to witness reports of a dogfighting operation when state troopers in Georgia found a seriously injured dog during a routine traffic stop.
In Rockingham County, North Carolina, a man was charged in March with dogfighting after 40 dogs were seized by county deputies. They thought that the man was advertising to sell dogs to train them for fights.
This information was given to federal investigators after an anonymous tip from Canada who had seen the ads on the Internet.
During the police search, they found 40 dogs, and many of them had injuries and scars that were county deputies seized 40 dogs that had their teeth filed or worn down. One dog also had BB pellet wounds with three BBs under the skin. All of the dogs were chained to various objects throughout the property.
Federal agents seized the dogs, a dog treadmill, training poles, breeding rack, vials of lidocaine, dog-ear cropping tools, a shock collar, and bags of medical equipment.
The dogs were all pit bulls of assorted ages and were turned over to an animal shelter in Rockingham County, North Carolina.
Also, in Gastonia, North Carolina, Rico Pagan, 49, has been charged more than 12 felony charges, including dogfighting and animal cruelty, after several injured dogs were taken from his home on June 3.
Police have been investigating reports of animal cruelty and dogfighting at the man’s home for several months. The state and federal investigation was started after several community members called the local animal control office.
The seized dogs were covered in fleas and scars, common injuries seen in animal abuse and dogfighting cases. They were recovered in the backyard and were heavily chained, without access to shelter.
Still, the dogs wagged their tails and wanted attention from their rescuers.