The last of seven defendants, prosecuted following a federal investigation into a “deeply cruel” dogfighting network in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, was sentenced Tuesday to nearly four years in prison. Photo courtesy of World Animal Foundation
July 26 (UPI) — The last of seven defendants, prosecuted following a federal investigation into a “deeply cruel” dogfighting and drug distribution network in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina was sentenced Tuesday to nearly four years in prison.
Herman Tyrone Washington, 51, of Highland Springs, Va., was ordered to serve 46 months in prison. Washington’s prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release during which he will be banned from owning or possessing dogs, according to the Justice Department.
Washington pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in animal fighting and for possession of a pitbull-type dog for participation in dogfighting. He was the last of seven defendants charged in the conspiracy, who together will serve more than 44 years in prison.
“Dogfighting is not a sport, it’s a brutal crime against animals who rarely escape death unless liberated by law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“The lengthy sentences faced by Washington and others who conspired in this dogfighting ring illustrated that those who seek to profit from the suffering of animals face significant prison time,” Kim added.
According to court documents, the Drug Enforcement Administration began its investigation in 2019 and used electronic surveillance to analyze more than 400 conversations between the co-conspirators, as they discussed dogfighting activities over a period of two months.
Investigators said the co-conspirators bred and trained dogs to fight, and transported dogs between four states to participate in matches. At least one of the conspirators killed dogs by drowning them in buckets of water, court documents show.
In November and December of 2020, law enforcement issued a search warrant and seized 93 dogs that had been trained to participate in dog fights.
“The inhumane treatment of animals, especially ones bred to be companions for humans is not only strictly illegal, but deeply cruel,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“We have sought significant sentences in this case because the mistreatment of animals is a serious crime born of malicious intent. These dogs deserved better.”