Valdosta Daily Times

August 27, 2013

Arrests in multi-state dogfighting ring

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

ECHOLS AND LOWNDES COUNTIES — Officials in South Georgia worked with state and federal agencies to bring down a dog-fighting network in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas this weekend.

Beginning with raids on numerous homes throughout the Southeast on Friday, according to authorities, the three-year investigation yielded 12 arrests, the rescue of 367 pit bulls, and the seizure of more than $500,000 in cash.

Echols County Sheriff Randy Courson said his officers served a search warrant at 614 Copeland Road in the early morning hours on Friday, in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Department of Natural Resources and the Clinch County Sheriff’s Office.

Courson said officers found nine pit bulls, some with noticeable scarring from apparent fighting, as well as equipment used to train and condition the dogs for fighting.

Arrested in the raid were Raymond Lee Hendrix, Jr., 36, and Tara Hunt, 39. Hendrix is charged with dog fighting and possession of tools for commission of a crime, and Hunt is charged with party to a crime (dog fighting). They were transported to the Lowndes County Jail, according to Courson.

On Friday evening, investigators with the Special Operations Division of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at 5535 Madison Highway. According to reports, investigators rescued 27 dogs, along with treadmills, a large trailer used to transport the animals, and a variety of items used in training along with dog medications.

The LCSO also seized several marijuana plants and a quantity of cocaine. No arrests have been made in the Lowndes County case yet, but the investigation is ongoing and sheriff’s deputies say arrests are imminent.

The Humane Society of the U.S. responded to both scenes and took possession of the  dogs, who will be treated and held as evidence pending trial.

The Associated Press quoted federal prosecutor Clark Morris, who coordinated the raids, concerning additional arrests in the investigation, including the following from Georgia: William Antone Edwards, 42, of Brantley; Lawrence Watford, 35, of Adel; and Carl Tippens, of Georgia.

According to Courson, this is believed to be the second largest dog fighting raid in United States history.

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine is asking that anyone with information related to this case to call (229) 671-2950 or anonymously at (229) 671-2985.