MACON, Ga. (AP) — Two Georgia men have been sentenced to federal prison after they were arrested as part of an investigation into a multi-state dog fighting and cocaine trafficking ring.
Authorities investigated a criminal organization involved in cocaine distribution and dog fighting based in Roberta, Georgia, and stretching into north Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The investigation lasted from May 2019 until February 2020, when law enforcement agents carried out search warrants at 15 homes and seized more than 150 dogs that were being used for fighting, prosecutors said in a news release.
Jarvis Lockett, 41, of Warner Robins was sentenced Tuesday to serve 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Christopher Raines, 51, of Talbotton was sentenced to serve 11 years and three months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.
“Dog-fighting is closely associated with other serious crimes, and today’s sentences show that those who engage in this cruel and inhumane practice face significant prison time,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, with the U.S. Justice Department’s environmental and natural resources division, said in the release.
The investigation began with Lockett, U.S. Attorney Peter Leary of the Middle District of Georgia said in the release.
“Federal, state and local law enforcement meticulously followed every lead, and their unwavering commitment to justice has put an end to a complex and deadly dog-fighting and drug distribution network,” Leary said. “Violent dog-fighting circles are proven breeding grounds for a wide-range of criminal activities that harm the well-being of our communities and will not be tolerated in the Middle District of Georgia.”
During the time of the investigation, Lockett was involved in dog fights in several places in Georgia, including Taylor County, Eastman and Shiloh. Text messages on his phone included communications about killing an unaggressive dog, planning a dog fight, soliciting a female dog for fighting and discussions of purchasing large amounts of cocaine, the release says. A confidential informant bought cocaine from Lockett at a home in Roberta in July and September 2019.
On Feb. 26, 2020, officers searched the Roberta home and found cash, cocaine and evidence of dog fighting, prosecutors said. They found 14 dogs there with scars consistent with fighting. The same day, while executing a search warrant at a Warner Robins home Lockett owned, they found more evidence of dog fighting and a pit bull with injuries that were stapled shut. The dog died two days later from his injuries.
Raines’ illegal drug and dog fighting activities were discovered during the investigation, prosecutors said. While executing a search warrant on Feb. 26, 2020, at a property owned by Raines in Talbotton, authorities recovered 41 dogs used in dog fighting. They were malnourished and had scars, hair loss and spliced ears. Raines admitted he was a manager or supervisor in the criminal organization and was involved in selling cocaine, prosecutors said.
Lockett had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture and cocaine distribution. Raines had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base.