Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
26 people arrested dogfighting raid across 6 states, ~400 pitbulls seized Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma July 8, 2009  
Rick P. Hihath, 55 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 St. Joseph, MO

Jill D. Makstaller, 32

Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 Perry, IA
Zachary R. Connelly, 32 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 Ogden, IA
Kevin P. Tasler, 51 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 Jefferson, IA
Ryan J. Tasler, 32 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 Woodward, IA
Julio Reyes, 28 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 Tecumseh, NB
Cris E. Bottcher, 48 Conspiracy to defraud the US; transporting animals for fighting ventures

St. Joseph, MO

Berrien County

July 8, 2009 St. Joseph, MO

Michael Morgan, 38

aka Missouri Mike

Conspiracy to commit federal offenses; prohibitions against animal fighting ventures

East St. Louis, MO

St. Louis County

July 8, 2009 Hannibal, MO
Robert Hackman, 55 Conspiracy to commit federal offenses; prohibitions against animal fighting ventures

East St. Louis, MO

St. Louis County

July 8, 2009 Foley, MO

Teddy Kiriakidis, 50

aka Teddy Bogart

Conspiracy to commit federal offenses; prohibitions against animal fighting ventures

East St. Louis, MO

St. Louis County

July 8, 2009 Leasburg, MO
Ronald Creach, 34 Conspiracy to commit federal offenses; prohibitions against animal fighting ventures

East St. Louis, MO

St. Louis County

July 8, 2009 Leslie, MO
Jack Ruppel, 35 Conspiracy to commit federal offenses; prohibitions against animal fighting ventures

East St. Louis, MO

St. Louis County

July 8, 2009 Eldon, MO
William Berry, 34 Conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting

East St. Louis, IL

St. Clair County

July 9, 2009 Lebanon, IL
Derrick Courtland, 42 Conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting

East St. Louis, IL

St. Clair County

July 9, 2009 Cahokia, IL
John Bacon, 36 Conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting

East St. Louis, IL

St. Clair County

July 9, 2009 Fairview Heights, IL
Julius Jackson, 40 Conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting

East St. Louis, IL

St. Clair County

July 9, 2009 East St. Louis, IL
Joseph Addison, 40 Conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting

East St. Louis, IL

St. Clair County

July 9, 2009 East St. Louis, IL
Jerry L.  Matlock, 57 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Muskogee, OK

Muskogee County

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Stilwell, OK

Karl S. Courtney, 34

aka Shane

Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Beckville, TX
Jerry L. Beene, 69 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Hampton, AR
Chase M. Courtney, 26 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Carthage, TX

Jerry S. Chism, 34

aka Scotty

Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Longview, TX
Chad A. Courtney, 30 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Carthage, TX
Devin L. Pelzl, 29 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Beckville, TX
Michael L. Beene, 36 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Hampton, AR
Harold D. Stewart, 41 Conspiracy to commit an offense against the US; Sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture, aiding & abetting; buying, selling, delivery or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture

Tyler, TX

Smith County

July 8, 2009 Beckville, TX
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date
Felony neglect, shooting, burning dogs, conspiracy, gambling and bookmaking ~400 pitbulls Alleged

7/14/09; 7/23/09; 7/30/09;  8/5/09;   8/26/09; 9/1/09;   9/9/09

     

(Photos courtesy of Emily Rasinski/AP Photo/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

As many as ~400 dogs were seized and 26 people arrested during raids in five states that animal welfare groups are calling the largest simultaneous raid of dogfighting operations in the U.S. conducted after a 9-month investigation.

U.S. attorneys in four of the states announced related indictments accusing 26 people of cruelties ranging from denying animals medical treatment to shooting dogs in the head when they didn't fight well, then throwing their carcasses into a river or burning them in a barrel.

Task forces of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted the raids and made arrests in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma following a more than year-long investigation prompted by information gathered by the Humane Society of Missouri.

   (Photo courtesy of Emily Rasinski/AP Photo/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 

Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri, said tips had come in from "multiple sources" about dogfighting, and anti cruelty workers worked with federal authorities for 18 months.  "This heinous, heinous bloodsport is not going to be tolerated," she said.

The national Humane Society said there also were arrests in Arkansas associated with dogfighting, but no dogs were seized.

Dogfighting is banned throughout the United States and is a felony in 50 states. A law enacted two years ago increased penalties for activities that promote or encourage animal fighting after a long campaign by animal-welfare groups.

The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs -- believed to be mostly pitbull terriers -- seized in Missouri and Illinois raids and their conditions are being assessed. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an undisclosed emergency shelter in St. Louis.

Jordan Crump, a spokesman with the Humane Society of the United States, said each dog seized in all the raids will be evaluated by behavioral experts in hopes of placing as many as possible in adoptive homes.

"Animal welfare organizations will have to come together to ensure animals are comfortable in their confinement and they have the best opportunity to be evaluated, and if possible, offered rescue resources," Reynolds said.

Seven people from Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's office in western Missouri. The indictment said the seven acquired, bred and trained pitbull dogs for fighting and denied medical treatment for wounds and injuries.

The statement named seven suspects from Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa who will face a variety of charges including conspiracy, illegal gambling and bookmaking. Each of the five counts in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment without parole and a maximum fine of $250,000, the statement said.

According to the statement, one of the accused works for a state school for the handicapped, another is a registered nurse at a Missouri community hospital and a third works for a school district.

The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis said five men were indicted there for allegedly running kennel operations to buy, breed, train, condition and develop pitbulls for fighting ventures under such names as Ozark Hillbillys Kennel, Cannibal Kennel and Hard Goodbye Kennel. The men routinely abandoned, destroyed and disposed of pitbull terriers that lost fighting competitions, did not perform aggressively, or became injured or disabled while fighting, the St. Louis indictment said.

The U.S. Attorney's office in eastern Texas said nine people were indicted June 30 on dogfighting charges there. Two FBI task force officers working with a confidential informant posed as dog owners and attended fights in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the indictment. They managed to get video and audio from Jan. 17 fights near Tahlequah, OK, by accompanying suspects to a remote country building for three dogfights, the indictment said.

Authorities said one man was indicted in Oklahoma and arrested near Welling in rural Cherokee County. Five people indicted in southern Illinois for dogfighting in St. Clair and Madison counties also were arrested.

Update 7/9/09:  In Missouri, five more East St. Louis men and more than 150 Pitbull Terriers were taken into custody after early-morning raids. The U.S. Attorney there also filed motions seeking to take legal ownership of the dogs and place the animals in the care and custody of the Humane Society of Missouri, a Justice Department press release said.

According to an indictment, the five East St. Louis, Missouri men -- Michael Morgan, Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Jack Ruppel –- ran various kennel operations to purchase, breed, train, condition, and develop pitbull Terriers for dog-fighting competitions. Among the kennels’ names: "Shake Rattle and Roll Kennel," "Ozark Hillbillys Kennel," and "Hard Goodbye Kennel."

"Forcing a dog to fight to its death is not a sport," said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "There is nothing respectable about encouraging two animals to torture and dismember each other. Individuals who participate in dog fighting claim to care for the animals, but they don't hesitate to electrocute their helpless dog once it loses a fight and can no longer provide any financial benefit."

The specific charges against the East St. Louis, Missouri men, according to the press release:
- Michael Morgan, a/k/a Missouri Mike, 38, Hannibal, MO, on two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

- Robert Hackman, 55, Foley, MO, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

- Teddy Kiriakidis, a/k/a Teddy Bogart, 50, Leasburg, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses;

- Ronald Creach, 34, Leslie, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; and

- Jack Ruppel, 35 Eldon, MO, town, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures.

If convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

  (Photo courtesy of KMBC)  Officers seized more than 50 dogs at a farm in St. Joseph, MO, and more animals were confiscated from Foley, MO.

Five metro-east IL men were among those arrested.  Altogether, authorities arrested 26 suspects and seized ~400 dogs in Illinois, Missouri, Texas and other states.

Charged here were: William Berry, 34, of Lebanon; Derrick Courtland, 42, of Cahokia; John Bacon, 36, of Fairview Heights; Julius Jackson, 40, of East St. Louis; and Joseph Addison, 40, of East St. Louis. Each is charged with conspiracy to commit dogfighting.

According to the charges, the metro-east defendants organized dogfights in East St. Louis and Washington Park, charging spectators $20 apiece for admission.

About 40 spectators were on hand for one fight. Some dogs came from other states, and were trained to fight. Court documents indicate that two dog owners in one fight wagered $2,000.

The five metro-east defendants allegedly conspired in Madison and St. Clair counties between November and April. They were taken into custody, and appeared before a federal magistrate. Preliminary hearings are set for Aug. 5.

Addison and Jackson are identified in the charges as co-owners of Back Street Truez kennel.  The charges carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Special Agent Carole Schmitt of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's inspector general's office stated in court filings that "as part of the conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators did provide funding for expenses associated with the ongoing animal fighting venture, including training materials, dog food, medicine, travel expenses, and purse fees for dog fighting competitions."

Dogfighting is banned throughout the United States and is a felony in 48 states. President George W. Bush signed a law in 2007 that increased penalties for activities that promote or encourage animal fighting after a long campaign by animal-welfare groups.

Four Iowans accused of helping run an massive dog fighting ring will appear in court July 23rd.

One of the Iowans indicted is Ryan Tasler, 32, a teacher and golf coach at Madrid High School in Central Iowa. He refused to talk to reporters. Madrid school district also declined comment.

Along with Tasler, agents also arrested Jill Makstaller of Perry, Zachary Connelly of Ogden and Kevin Tasler of Jefferson. Each faces up to ten years in prison.

The acting U.S. Attorney for the western district of Missouri says the Iowans and three others from Nebraska and Missouri were indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in a conspiracy to promote and participate in dog fights.

A news release from the U.S. Attorney says 43-year-old Jill Makstaller of Perry, 32-year-old Zachary Connelly of Ogden, 51-year-old Kevin Tasler of Jefferson and 42-year-old Ryan J. Tasler were named in the indictment. The court information says Kevin Tasler, Ryan Tasler, Makstaller, and Connelly are each charged with one count of transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture.

Prosecutors allege the Iowans traveled to a Missouri farm for dog fights in April, May and June of this year. They say Ryan Tasler was the spongeman in one fight-- providing sponges to the dogs' handlers to wipe blood off their dogs or cool them down. On another night Connelly allegedly handled his dog, "Tommy". Makstaller was the referee for that first fight and the timekeeper for a second fight.

Ryan Tasler also allegedly was the timekeeper and spongeman for the first fight and also bet on the fight along with Connelly and Makstaller. The indictment says the dogs were often seriously injured and shot to death after the fights.  Read the indictment at 6statedogs.

  (Photo courtesy of KETV)  A Nebraska man was one of several charged in a federal court for allegedly promoting and participating in dogfighting.

Julio Reyes, 28, of Tecumseh, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Missouri, said U.S. Attorney Matt Whitworth. He faces a charge of transporting animals for animal fighting. The multi-state investigation included Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.

According to the indictment, the defendants bred and trained dogs, mostly pitbulls, to be used in fights that took place from January to May.

The defendants routinely destroyed dogs that had become severely injured by shooting them in the head, Whitworth said. The dogs' bodies were then dumped in a river or burned in a barrel.

Investigators said numerous dog fights took place at the farm of one of the defendants, Cris E. Bottcher, 48, a registered nurse in of Bethany, Mo.

After one of the fights on Bottcher's farm in April, Whitworth said, Bottcher used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot and kill two dogs who fought below the handlers' expectations. Bottcher allegedly shot each animal twice in the head, and then placed the bodies in plastic containers outside the garage.

Update 7/10/09:  Two area men pleaded not guilty to dog-fighting charges Friday and will be released on bond.

  (Photo courtesy of St, Joseph News-Press)  Rick P. Hihath, 55, of St. Joseph; and Cris E. Bottcher, 48, Gilman City; appeared for arraignment Friday at U.S. District Court in Kansas City. Both men face two counts of sponsoring animal fighting and one count of conspiracy.

They entered not-guilty pleas at the hearing. Both had been in custody after federal agents broke up a multi-state dog-fighting ring. A judge granted bond of $10,000 for each.

Acting on federal arrest warrants, Texas sheriff's officials from Gregg and Panola counties charged 9 people, with involvement in an interstate dogfighting ring.  Arrested were Jerry S. Chism, 34, of Longview; Chad A. Courtney, 30, and Chase M. Courtney, 26, both of Carthage; and Devin L. Pelzl, 29, Harold D. Stewart, 41, and Karl S. Courtney, 34, all of Beckville, said Davilyn Walston, U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman.

Chism is a Jacksonville High School assistant football coach.

According to court documents, investigators recorded calls between the suspects about breeding fight dogs and setting up dogfighting matches. Investigators also attended dogfighting matches in Beckville and witnessed large cash bets - in excess of $500 to $2,000 - being placed on the dogs, Walston said.

Karl Courtney, of the eastern Texas town of Beckville pleaded not guilty, said his attorney David Moore, who described his client as a "well-respected business owner." His brother, Chase Courtney, 26, of the nearby town of Carthage, also was arrested.

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced up to 5 years in federal prison and fined up to $250,000

Nine dogs, mostly pitbull terriers, were seized during a search in the 1100 block of CR 241 near Beckville, Walston said.

"These people would bring dogs from different states and have them fight at a ring near Beckville," Walston said.

Randall Lockwood, an animal behaviorist working with some of the rescued dogs in a St. Louis shelter, said the arrests illustrate dogfighting 's prevalence in America.  "It's a very long battle and the battle will continue, as long as people cause suffering and death for financial gain and amusement," said Lockwood, of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Authorities are closely guarding the condition of the rescued dogs because of the pending criminal trials. The Humane Society of Missouri said it is housing most of them - 378 rescued in Missouri and Illinois - at its emergency shelter in St. Louis. Humane groups in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Iowa are taking care of another 75 to 100 dogs, the Missouri group said.

"They seem to be very glad to be here," said Janell Matthies with United Animal Nations, a California nonprofit rescue group assisting in the dogs' medical triage.

"We're seeing a lot of tail wags," she added.

In Oklahoma Jerry L. Matlock, 57, of Stilwell of the Tailholt community in Cherokee County was arrested near Welling. Matlock made an initial appearance in federal court in Muskogee and was released. He was indicted in the U.S. Eastern District of Texas and is to appear in federal court in Tyler, Texas on July 14, said U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling.

Matlock and Stilwell Mayor James Collins are former longtime partners of a restaurant in Stilwell.

Indictments against Matlock consist of:

• Count 1 — Conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to participate in a criminal dog-fighting enterprise.

• Counts 2 and 3 — Sponsoring an interstate animal fighting venture, and buying, transporting, delivering or receiving a dog for purposes of participation in an animal fighting venture.

Each count is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of not more than $250,000, Sperling said.

FBI special agents, special agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of inspector General, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers and the Cherokee and Adair counties sheriffs and deputies joined in the arrest.

Matlock waived his right to an identity hearing, Sperling said. He was ordered released under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office after agreeing to show up at the federal court in Texas on July 14.

A federal grand jury in Texas indicted Jerry Matlock, 57, of Stilwell and eight others with conspiracy related to dogfighting . His trial is scheduled for early September, said his attorney, Rex Earl Starr of Stilwell. He was released from jail on $10,000 bail.

In Nebraska Julio C. Reyes, 28, walked out of U.S. District Court in Lincoln on supervised release as he awaits trial on two felony charges that could put him in prison for 10 years.

On July 9th multiple local agencies teamed with two dogfighting investigators from the Humane Society of the United States to begin the execution of search warrants at Reyes’ home and another property.

Once the searches concluded, four dogs believed to be owned by Reyes and various items of alleged animal fighting paraphernalia had been seized, Johnson County Attorney Julie Smith Hogancamp said in a news release.

The federal indictment includes an allegation that Reyes allowed one of his pit bull terriers to be shot and killed after it performed poorly in a fight.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Everett said in court that investigators found the dogs in four separate kennels, which could indicate they have been trained to fight. In addition, Everett mentioned Reyes’ past convictions for animal cruelty and keeping a dangerous dog.  “He has a real documented history here of not being able to take care of dogs,” the prosecutor argued.

But Federal Public Defender John Vanderslice said the dogs were “family pets” and argued it is not illegal for his client to keep pets.

The judge saddled Reyes with a long list of conditions he must meet while awaiting trial. The list includes refraining from illegal activities with animals and keeping a job.  Reyes is scheduled for a July 23 arraignment in Kansas City, Mo.

Hogancamp said in the news release that her office and the Tecumseh Police Department obtained search warrants to search Reyes’ home at 436 Lincoln St. and another property at 506 U.S. Highway 136, both in Tecumseh. According to the Johnson County Assessor's Web site, the second property is zoned commercial and owned by Jesus Diaz of Plymouth, MN.

Tecumseh police participated in the searches along with Johnson and Pawnee county sheriff’s offices, four Nebraska Humane Society investigators and two Washington, D.C.-based dogfighting investigators from the Humane Society of the United States.

Federal prosecutors in Kansas City charged Reyes and six others with conspiracy to organize and wager money on pit bull fights in Missouri. Reyes was also charged with transporting dogs across state lines to fight.

Reyes is the only Nebraskan charged in the case.  If convicted, he faces as many as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. If he fails to keep the conditions of his pretrial release, he could face additional felony charges.

Update 7/11/09:  The Nebraska Humane Society is looking after four pitbulls thought to be involved in a dog-fighting ring. The animals were seized from Julio Reyes.  Reyes of Tecumseh is the only Nebraskan implicated in the case. Prosecutors say he took two pitbulls to a farm in Northwest Missouri, and then placed bets on the outcomes of several fights.

Caged and scared, yet remarkably well behaved. That's how the Nebraska Humane Society describes four pitbulls seized in Tecumseh. Reyes is accused of conspiring to fight dogs for sport.

Vets say although the pitbulls are mostly healthy, some have old scars on their head, chest, or legs. "That would lend credibility to the fact that these dogs may have been fought or may have been used to train fighting dogs because there is scaring in the areas that fighting dogs typically have," said Pam Wiese.

    (Photo courtesy of Dave Weaver, The Associated Press)  Two of four pitbulls that were seized from Reyes home in Tecumseh, is seen at the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha.

The humane society is caring for the pitbulls until trial. Experts say while dog fighting is concentrated in rural areas; it is an issue in the Omaha area. "We get tips all the time from people that suspect dog fighting, we have found paraphernalia in homes, dead dogs in dumpsters," Wiese said.

Animal control workers say they're always on the look out for signs of trouble. "We run into a lot of cases where we've located dogs after the dog fight, where they had severe enough injuries they've had to be euthanized because they were so bad," said field investigator Kelli Brown.

Signs of dog fighting include a large number of pitbull like breeds in the same location, including dogs that tend to be aggressive toward other dogs and have scars or visible injuries.

Many times owners also force their dogs to run for hours or hang heavy chains around their necks. "Tools used to train the dogs, such as treadmills, ropes hung from trees that allow the dog to jump up and hang from it and that helps the dog to build muscle strength," Brown said.

Experts say dog fighting is a very difficult crime to crack, because it's so underground and the people involved stay pretty closed lipped. The humane society does offer big bucks for information that leads to a dog fighting arrest and recovery of the animals involved.

The humane society says it's too early to tell if the dogs involved in the Tecumseh case can be rehabilitated, but they're hopeful and just glad the dogs were saved before they were seriously hurt or killed because they didn't perform.

Update 7/14/09:  Undercover agents tipped off by informants infiltrated the illegal world of dogfighting by attending underground fights, leading to the arrests.

Documents filed in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., show informants began introducing federal investigators to breeders, promoters, referees, gamblers and fighters in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska in October 2007. The agents later infiltrated dogfighting operations run by those people.

In January 2008, undercover officers from several agencies began attending fights and spending time at participants' homes and rings. They used hidden audio and visual equipment to record the sights and conversations.

The agents discovered records in spiral notebooks and computers and found items used in the sport, including bloodstained carpets, digital scales, harnesses, treadmills, breeding schedules, fight-breaking sticks, contest ribbons and rifles for killing dogs, documents show.

One agent described how spouses and children egged on fighters at one rural Missouri home where matches were held in a tan metal building attached to the house. Fights drew as much as $5,000 in bets, the agent said in an affidavit.

Some dogfighters offered to help undercover officers buy dogs and obtain steroids to enhance their strength, the affidavit said.

Aerial photographs of dogfighting compounds taken by federal investigators showed dirt patches where dogs were chained on short tethers to stakes in the ground.

Agents got much of their information from an eastern Missouri man who had been involved in dogfighting for 12 years and participated in fights around the U.S. He introduced the agents to many of his associates.

An informant in western Missouri talked to a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant, who'd been getting citizen complaints about alleged fighter Rick Hihath of St. Joseph as long ago as 2000. Hihath was charged after last week's raids with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to sponsor a dog in a fight and two counts of sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture.

Hihath, who teaches physical education at a state school for the severely disabled, went by the name "the schoolteacher" when discussing dogfighting online, the affidavit said. The Highway Patrol learned from the Humane Society of the United States in 2007 that Hihath was known as a conditioner of fighting dogs whose work is referenced in dogfighting publications.

The court cases are as follows:

Case Summary Defendants Case # Court Date filed
US vs Hihath et al

Rick Hihath,

Cris E. Bottcher,

Jill D. Makstaller,

Julio Reyes,

Zachary R. Connelly,

Kevin P. Tasler,

Ryan J. Tasler

5:09-cr-06007-ODS-1 US District Court Western District of Missouri (St. Joseph) 6/23/09
US vs Morgan et al

Michael Morgan,

Robert Hackman

Teddy Kiriakidis,

Ronald Creach,

Jack Ruppel

4:09-cr-00441-CEJ-TCM-1 US District Court Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) 7/1/09
US vs Berry et al

William Berry,

John Bacon,

Julius Jackson,

Joseph Addison,

Derrick Courtland

3:09-mj-06059-CJP-1 US District Court Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis) 7/8/09
US vs Matlock Jerry L. Matlock 6:09-mj-00059-SPS-1 US District Court Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskagee) 7/8/09
US vs Karl S. Courtney, et al

Karl S. Courtney,

Jerry S. Chism,

Jerry L. Beene,

Jerry L. Matlock,

Chase M. Courtney,

Devlin L. Pelzl,

Michael L. Beene,

Harold D. Stewart,

Chad A. Courtney

6:09-cr-00080-LED-JDL US District Court Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) 6/30/09

Reference:

KETV The Associated Press Belleville News-Democrat
KPTM 42 News Atlanta Journal Constitution

St. Joseph News-Press

KMBC CNN Fox News
Sioux City Journal Radio Iowa US District Court, Western MO

KCRG-TV9

Des Moines Register

Kansas City Star

Tulsa World

Muskogee Daily Phoenix & Times-Democrat

Longview News-Journal

Southern Illinoisan

Jacksonville Daily Progress Lee Enterprise