POLICE have uncovered a network of 23 people across Spain, including a vet and members of the security forces, accused of breeding and abusing animals and organising illegal dogfights.
Those involved are facing a combined sentence of 102 years according to a statement released on July 10 by Madrid’s Public Prosecutor’s Office
The dogs were raised from birth to fight and pumped full of drugs to make them more aggressive and muscular. These fights would often be to the death.
The charges the accused are facing are: actions as part of a criminal organisation and animal abuse. Some of the accused are also alleged to be members of the security services: so they are facing charges of Omission (when a person with authority fails to do their duty in catching criminals).
The written statement from the prosecutor’s office says that the gang ‘organised, promoted and participated’ in dog fighting, and they made ‘large quantities of money’ doing so.
The breeders raised and selectively bred the dogs for maximum aggression and strength. They injected excessive amounts of testosterone and other drugs to enhance these qualities, but this actually often did more harm than good to the poor dogs. Police also found that the breeders would put the dogs through grueling training too, going so far as to even use equipment such as treadmills.
The fights themselves would leave many of the dogs gravely wounded and close to death. The trainers would use these injured dogs as ‘sparring’ practise for their other dogs. The wounded dogs would more often than not be killed in this cruel way. Though in the trainers’ eyes they were killing two birds with one stone: both training their new dog, and getting rid of a useless one.
This network of dogfighting spread throughout Spain. The prosecutor’s office named Madrid, Alicante, Murcia, Almeria, Malaga, and even the Canary Islands as known locations for the ‘interconnected’ competitions. Though it is alleged that a number of the dogs were made to fight internationally too; so there might even be a larger web of these abusers across Europe.
Angel O.R, aka ‘El Profe’, Sergio R.H., aka ‘El Seco’ and ‘Rafa’ have been named as the ring leaders and the most prominent breeders in the gang. The prosecutors are looking for sentences of 10 years or more for these people.
Another member is a veterinarian, so will likely be looking at a longer sentence too.
All the accused were arrested as part of a nationwide investigation in 2017, which came to a head in a raid on a property in Guimar (Tenerife).
The sting operation resulted in 34 arrests and the rescuing of 230 dogs. Tragically, 42 of these dogs died shortly after because of the wounds they had received from previous fights and mistreatment. The police also discovered dozens of firearms, enormous quantities of doping drugs (for use on the dogs), €30,000 in cash, 800 marihuana plants and 40 grams of cocaine.
This high profile case is set to go to trial on February 21 2022. The party Podemos have said that they are looking for a total sentence of 471 years.
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