Andy Simmons Staff Writer
January 21, 2014
Several Meriwether County law enforcement agencies were involved in a raid Saturday night that halted an organized dog fighting event.
Officers arrested 34 suspects at the scene, including an unknown number from Troup County.
According to a report sent by the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office, at around 10:30 p.m., numerous officers representing various law enforcement agencies, and Animal Control Officer Beth Miller, converged on a location off Happy Hollow Drive off state Highway 362, commonly known as Callaway Road to conduct an orchestrated raid of a criminally organized dog fighting event. Air support in the form of two helicopters were provided by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“Our narcotics unit has worked tirelessly on gathering intelligence on the event and at a moment’s notice, they “rallied up” and met at the training center where a briefing was conducted. Their efforts included air support, compliments of Sheriff Mike Yeager and Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources,” Sheriff Chuck Smith said in the report.
“When the helicopter pilots “hit their target” with spot lights participants and spectators ran into the arms of waiting officers holding a perimeter around the event. A large “fighting pit” was noticed with an emaciated, bleeding, crippled female pit bull terrier. Our animal control officer took this dog and another into protective custody. A large catering truck “Express Wings” was set up with fried chicken and fish was being served to participants and spectators during the event. At the preliminary conclusion of our agent’s investigation.”
The report said that roughly $28,253.00 in currency was seized, 27 vehicles including the catering truck, 34 offenders, five guns, two generators, lighting equipment and one dog fighting pit and scales were also seized. According to FBI intelligence, one of the offenders is wanted by U.S. Marshals on a federal indictment accusing him of dog fighting. One of the seized guns was reported stolen to the Manchester Police Department.
“I am saddened by what I saw at this crime scene; however, I am very proud of all these law enforcement officers that were involved. We know in the dog fighting world, these events carry the highest potential of being extremely dangerous. All officers displayed the highest level of professionalism while showing “armed” force to minimize the risk of getting hurt or hurting others.” Smith said in the report.
The report said that the The agencies involved included: Meriwether County Sheriff’s Deputies & Investigators, the department’s narcotics unit, Woodbury Police Department, Greenville Police Department, rangers with the Department of Natural Resources, Spalding County Sheriff’s Deputies, Coweta County Sheriff’s Crime Suppression Unit, the Coweta County Sheriff’s and Department of Natural Resources Aviation Units.
“There were 79 warrants issued and 34 were detained, including a few from Troup County,” Smith said.
The report said that the charges include: gambling, cruelty to animal(s), possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, theft by receiving stolen property, any charge involving conspiracy to commit or promote dog fighting, along with other crimes associated with the dog fighting operation.