A well-known fighting dog trainer and breeder, owner of Cane Valley Kennels, has been sentenced to the maximum legal sentence of five years in prison following an investigation into a major dog fighting and cocaine trafficking ring in several states.
Vernon Vegas, 49, of Suwanee, Georgia, was also sentenced to three years of probation following his imprisonment and fined $10,000 by U.S. District Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal. fighting business. Additionally, pursuant to its plea agreement, Vegas agreed to forfeit $116,819 in cash seized during the investigation.
“Vernon Vegas is held accountable for his violent, unlawful and inhumane acts,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This case illustrates that dogfighting is intertwined with the underworld of drugs and organized crime, and that the Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
“Vernon Vegas received the maximum prison sentence for enticing others into the brutal and bloody business of dogfighting, a world that fosters a host of other dangerous criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary for the Central District of Georgia. “Our office, working with local, state and federal law enforcement, will hold individuals and groups who participate in illegal dog fighting accountable for their crimes.”
According to court documents, law enforcement investigated a criminal organization involved in both cocaine distribution and organized dogfighting based in Roberta, Georgia, which expanded into North Georgia, in Florida and Alabama from May 2019 to February 2020. In February 2020, law enforcement executed 15 residential search warrants and seized over 150 dogs that were being used in organized dogfights.
Between October 1996 and February 2020, Vegas, the owner of Cane Valley Kennels, bred, trained, sold and transported dogs for dogfighting purposes, including Grand Champion ‘Baby Gracie’, Champion ‘Son of Sam 2XBis champion, “Spider,” Champion “Bucky Mike,” Champion “Bear,” Champion “Kocky Mike,” Champion “Fantasmin,” Champion “Julie the Great,” and one-time winner, “Brenda.” , Vegas designed and offered a seven-week “guardian” where he trained dogs for animal fighting companies, prepared online pedigrees for fighting dogs bred and trained at Cane Valley Kennels, provided counseling to his co-conspirators on how to train dogs for the purpose of engaging in animal fighting businesses and keep a slew of training and conditioning equipment, including lath mills, chains, a stapler, hanging scales, breaking sticks, flirting poles and various medications to treat injuries or illnesses suffered 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 Central District of Georgia and advised Owens on various issues related to dogfighting readiness. animals.
The matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General (USDA-OIG), US Marshals Service, Division of Environment and Natural Resources ( ENRD) Department of Justice, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Houston County Sheriff’s Office, County Sheriff’s Office of Merriweather, Peach County Sheriff’s Office, Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Webster County Sheriff’s Office, Byron Police Department and Fort Valley Police Department.
Attorney General Banu Rangarajan of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Keyes for the Central District of Georgia prosecuted the case.