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Twelfth Defendant Sentenced in Dog-Fighting, Drug Distribution Ring
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The Criminal Organization Involved Dog-Fighting and Cocaine Distribution in Three States

The 12th defendant prosecuted as part of an extensive investigation into a dog-fighting and cocaine distribution network spanning three states was sentenced for his crimes in federal court today.

Shelley Johnson aka Gold Mouth, 40, of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced to 37 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III after he previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture. As a condition of his supervised release, Johnson is prohibited from owning or possessing dogs. There is no parole in the federal system.

According to court documents, law enforcement investigated a criminal organization involved in both cocaine distribution and organized dog fighting based out of Roberta, Georgia, which extended into North Georgia, Florida and Alabama from May 2019 until February 2020. In February2020, law enforcement executed 15 residential search warrants and seized more than 150 dogs that were being used for organized dog-fighting. A 136- count indictment was unsealed on Jan. 29, 2021, charging 11 individuals with various criminal activities. Three other individuals, including Johnson, were charged by criminal information.

During this time period, Johnson communicated with co-conspirator Jarvis Lockett about fighting and breeding dogs, dogs mauled and killed as a result of fighting, sharpening a dog’s teeth for fighting purposes, cash prizes for fights, and various topics detailing the business and the brutality of dog-fighting. Johnson attended a dog fight and participated as a handler inside the ring during the dog fight. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Johnson’s Macon residence on Feb. 26, 2020, recovering 13 pit bull terrier type dogs with scarring consistent with dog-fighting. In addition, agents found evidence of dog fighting activities including a digital scale, weighted collars, heavy chains, ground stakes and a variety of medical supplies to treat animals for injuries sustained from dog fighting activities.

“Johnson participated in a brutal criminal enterprise that profited from the suffering of animals,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD).“Dog-fighting is a crime, and also closely associated with other serious crimes. The sentences in this prosecution show those who engage in this cruel and inhumane practice face significant prison time.”

“The brutality of dog-fighting alone is sickening; but this case demonstrates the strong union that exists between this bloody and inhumane business and the world of illegal gun and drug trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary for the Middle District of Georgia. “Our office is committed to not only prosecuting dog-fighting participants, but working alongside our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we will root out the entire criminal network and hold them responsible for their crimes.”

“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals involved in the inhumane torture of animals for entertainment,” said Special Agent in Charge Jason Williams, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “We appreciate the collaboration with our law enforcement partners in pursing these purveyors of death and senseless suffering.”

The following co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced in this case:

Lekey Davis, aka Kee Boo, 46, of Talbotton, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 210 months of imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base;

Christopher Raines, aka Binky, 51, of Talbotton, was sentenced to serve 135 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release and pay a $10,000 fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base;

Jarvis Lockett, aka J-Rock, 41, of Warner Robins, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 10 years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture and cocaine distribution;

Derrick Owens, aka Doomie, 38, of Woodland, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 10 years of imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine;

Jason Carter, 39, of Phoenix City, Alabama, was sentenced to serve 97 months of imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine;

Vernon Vegas, 50, of Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced to serve the maximum five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and pay a $10,000 fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture;

Shaquille Bentley, 27, of Roberta, Georgia, was sentenced to serve four years of imprisonment after pleading guilty to use of a communication facility;

Rodrick Walton, aka Rodrie Walton, 42, of Shiloh, Georgia, was sentenced to serve two years of imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture;

Reginald Crimes, 39, of Preston, Georgia, was sentenced to serve two years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture;

Lee Benney, 55, of Reynolds, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 21 months of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture; and,

Bryanna Holmes, 25, of Fort Valley, Georgia, was sentenced to serve three years of probation after pleading guilty to use of a communication facility.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Keyes for the Middle District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Banu Rangarajan of ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section prosecuted the case.

The case was investigated by ENRD, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), USDA-OIG, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, the Merriweather County Sheriff’s Office, the Peach County Sheriff’s Office, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, the Byron Police Department and the Fort Valley Police Department.

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