A well-known fighting dog trainer and breeder has pleaded guilty to a federal animal fighting charge following an ongoing investigation into a major dog fighting and drug trafficking ring in several states.
Vernon Vegas, 49, of Suwanee, Ga., Pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in an animal fighting business on September 14. According to court documents, law enforcement investigated a criminal organization involved in both distributing cocaine and organizing dog fights based in Roberta. , Georgia, which spread to North Georgia, Florida and Alabama from May 2019 to February 2020. In February 2020, law enforcement executed 15 residential search warrants and seized more than 150 dogs which were used for organized dog fights.
“This case illustrates the link between the underground drug world, organized crime and dog fighting,” said Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Vernon Vegas took advantage of the pain of these dogs and will be rightly held responsible.”
“Vernon Vegas was the trainer of the trainers – he taught individuals the bloody and brutal trade of dog fighting and worked to make sure he thrived,” Acting US District Attorney Peter D. Leary said for the district. central Georgia. “Dog fighting businesses attract a multitude of dangerous criminal activity. Our office and law enforcement will not tolerate animal fighting or the crimes around them; we will seek federal prosecution when warranted.
Between October 1996 and February 2020, Vegas, the owner of Cane Valley Kennels, bred, trained, sold and transported dogs as part of dog fights. As part of his business, Vegas designed and delivered a seven-week “sitter” where he trained dogs for animal fighting companies, prepared online pedigrees for fighting dogs bred and trained in Cane Valley. Kennels, provided advice to his co-conspirators. on how to train dogs for the purpose of engaging in animal fighting businesses, and has retained a plethora of training and conditioning equipment, including slat grinders, chains, a stapler, hanging scales, breaking sticks, drag sticks and various drugs to treat injuries or illnesses sustained by dogs made to fight. Between January 2017 and February 2020, Vegas attended dogfights with co-conspirators Derrick Owens and Christopher Raines at locations in the Middle District of Georgia and advised Owens on various matters related to preparing dogs for dogfights. ‘animals.
Vegas faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $ 250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for December 7.
The case was investigated by the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) of the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Agriculture-Office of the Inspector General (USDA- OIG), US Marshals Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Houston County Sheriff’s Office, Merriweather County Sheriff’s Office, Office from the Peach County Sheriff, Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Webster County Sheriff’s Office, Byron Police Department, and Fort Valley Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Keyes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Georgia and Attorney General Banu Rangarajan of the ENRD Environmental Crimes Section are continuing the case.