Five Middle Georgia Men Sentenced in Federal Dog Fighting Case, 96 Dogs Rescued

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Five men from middle Georgia have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a large-scale dog fighting operation. The 96 dogs rescued from this operation were found during searches linked to an investigation into drug trafficking across several counties in Georgia.

According to Jill E. Steinberg, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, the dogs were discovered during searches conducted as part of an inquiry into a drug trafficking conspiracy in Laurens, Treutlen, Johnson, and Emanuel Counties. Two individuals involved in the dog fighting ring were also sentenced in connection with the drug trafficking conspiracy.

The five defendants pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Welfare Act and were sentenced in U.S. District Court. Their sentences are as follows:

  • Travis Martin, also known as “Fat,” 43, from Wrightsville, Ga., was sentenced to 24 months in prison and fined $1,000.
  • Sentell Carey, 41, from Wrightsville, Ga., was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $2,000.
  • Dennis Wilcher, also known as “Buck,” 42, from Wrightsville, Ga., was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $3,000.
  • Terry Gilmore, 28, from Sandersville, Ga., was sentenced to 23 months in prison and fined $2,500.
  • Jonathan Linder, 35, from Rentz, Ga., was sentenced to 20 months in prison and fined $2,000.

In addition to their prison terms, the defendants are prohibited from owning dogs or engaging in any dog-related activities and must serve three years of supervised release. The investigation, led by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, resulted in a 27-county federal indictment charging 11 defendants with distributing methamphetamine and heroin in the greater Laurens County area. This led to multiple searches and the seizure of drugs, cash, and firearms.

The rescued dogs, suspected to be part of a dog fighting operation, were seized in a civil action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The U.S. Marshals Service contracted with an agency to provide veterinary services, care, and rehabilitation for the rescued dogs.

“The intentional infliction of pain and suffering on animals for sport is unfathomable,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Miles Davis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “We appreciate the commitment of our law enforcement partners to pursue these individuals who choose to participate in these heinous acts while also committing other severe offenses in our communities.”

The criminal dog fighting prosecution was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies, and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica K. Rock.

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