Hat tip to Sugar Cookie.
QUINCY — Eight Gadsden County residents are facing more than 80 federal charges in connection with a "large-scale," illegal dog fighting ring involving about 100 dogs.
According to the federal indictment the defendants bred, housed, trained and fought pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs. They communicated with each other by telephone and text messages about the transporting, delivering, exchanging and selling of the animals, and the location of fights held around the county. A "cooperating source" helped with the investigation.
One of the defendants is alleged to have left a dog training for a fight unattended in a swimming pool, allowing it to drown.
Those charged face up to five years in federal prison and fines of $250,000 per count of conviction. Four of the eight charged in the dog fighting scheme were among a dozen arrested May 8, 2019, on federal drug trafficking offenses charges for allegedly distributing methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA throughout the north-central Florida Panhandle between 2018 and 2019.
Young said the dog fighting investigation began 18 months ago and involved the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and many other agencies.
"For a long time we had such a drug problem here," he said. "We had types of drugs coming into this county that I really had never heard of, and therefore I felt we needed to venture out and bring other entities in to assist us in cleaning up Gadsden County."
A news release from Keefe's office said Tuesday's indictments and arrests followed a nearly five year investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a joint federal, state and local cooperative. It targeted a drug trafficking organization that also allegedly conducted the large dog fighting ring in the Northern District of Florida between 2014 and 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
At one of the dog fighting locations, law enforcement officials found the remains of a dog that recently had died. Most of the dogs used by the defendants were recovered by the United States Marshals Service and placed with foster care groups. Some of the dogs had minor cuts and bruises.
SWAT and other agencies raided unspecified properties and were able to rescue dogs and make several arrests.
During the operation that occurred before dawn, search warrants were executed on properties allegedly involved in training, housing, and conducting illegal dogfights.
The defendants charged in the federal indictment are:
Hadley, Donaldson, McMillian, and Colston also face the earlier announced drug charges.
- Jermaine Terrell Hadley, 31, Quincy
- Devar San Jacus Donaldson, 27, Quincy;
- Sariem Shanquell McMillian, 23, Quincy
- Randell Lavel Colston, 47, Quincy
- Bob Streets, 35, Quincy
- Zanntayfey Yohoun Bennett, 35, Quincy
- Dennis Lamar Howard, 45, Chattahoochee
- Leonard Safford, 37, Gretna
Young warned that there would be "more to come" in the investigation.
Eight Gadsden County residents are facing more than 80 federal charges in connection with a "large-scale" illegal dog fighting ring involving about 100 dogs.