A veterinary technician set up a dogfighting yard on his Virginia property where he’d host brutal fights, federal prosecutors said.
Carlos Warren, 49, of Rapidan, was also a spectator of the “blood sport” and attended dogfights where he’d show off his own fighting dogs, place bets on the canines and offered his “vet tech” services, according to prosecutors and court documents.
Specifically, Warren would treat dogs during fights — using medications and supplies he stole from his job — “up until they lost or refused to fight,” prosecutors said.
Where he worked as a vet tech wasn’t specified.
Dogs that couldn’t fight were executed by Warren, who would drown, electrocute, hang, shoot and strangle them, court documents said. Other times, he witnessed fellow dog fighters kill the animals by these means, according to a statement of facts filed in court Jan 19.
On July 31, a federal judge sentenced Warren to 20 months in prison for conspiring to fight dogs and promoting dogfighting using interstate publications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia announced in a news release.
His sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, prosecutors said. During this time, he cannot own animals and must forfeit any licenses, certifications or authorizations allowing him to engage in veterinary care, according to the July 31 release.
“The defendant’s certification and work as a veterinary technician, which he used to further these fights and promote the barbarous treatment of dogs, makes his crimes even more reprehensible,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement.
McClatchy News contacted Virginia-based criminal defense attorney Mark Bailey Williams, who represents Warren, for comment on July 31 and didn’t receive an immediate response.
Prior to Warren’s sentencing, Williams argued a sentence less than two years would be appropriate, noting his client demonstrated responsibility for his actions related to dogfighting and cooperated with the government, according to a sentencing memorandum.
Williams drew comparisons to former NFL quarterback Michael Vick and wrote that, unlike his client, Vick — “who received a sentence of only 23 months for similar crimes” — “did not accept responsibility for his crimes…,” the sentencing memo says.
Vick was arrested in connection with dog fighting in 2007 while he played for the Atlanta Falcons, according to the Sports Conflict Institute.
More on the case
Warren’s history of dogfighting dates back to his teenage years, prosecutors said.
From June 2016 until March 2022, Warren owned, bred and hosted dog fights on his Rapidan property, according to prosecutors and court documents.
He’s also accused of maintaining a dogfighting yard in Mexico, the statement of facts says.
At his Virginia property, in March 2022, Warren had at least 11 dogs he used for fights as well as “fighting paraphernalia,” according to the statement of facts and prosecutors.
“Warren possessed devices and items associated with raising fighting dogs to include various ‘mills’ and exercise wheels, wooden sticks and hooks used to pry open dogs’ jaws, paddles, and chain collars,” the statement of facts says.
In regards to the dogs most recently discovered on his property, he’d market their “reproductive materials” for them to be used “in breeding dogs for other animal fighting ventures,” the statement of facts says.
Warren ran his own dog fighting magazine beginning in 2016 until the end of 2021, according to the statement of facts.
He authored, edited, published and distributed this magazine, called “the Connector,” online and through the U.S. mail, the statement of facts says.
When Williams argued in support of a lesser sentence for Warren in the sentencing memo, he wrote his client’s friends “describe him as a giving man with a good heart” in letters they submitted to the court.
“They describe his love of animals which is at odds with the conduct that brings in before the court,” Williams wrote, the sentencing memo shows.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates tens of thousands of people in the U.S. are engaged in dogfighting, despite it being a felony nationwide.
According to the ASPCA, the “most basic” motivation for participating in dogfighting is “greed.”
“The individuals involved in the breeding, training and cruel deaths suffered by innocent animals — especially in a case like this at the hands of a trained veterinary technician — will be held accountable and justly punished by the Justice Department,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, of the Western District of Virginia, said in a statement.
Rapidan is about 85 miles northwest of Richmond.