SUWANEE, Ga. (WRBL) — A Georgia man was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture.

Vernon Vegas, 49, was sentenced on Tuesday, Jan. 18. He received the maximum prison sentence for his charges.

Vegas, the owner of Cane Valley Kennels, bred, trained, sold and transported dogs for the purpose of the dog fighting between Oct. 1996 and Feb. 2020, according to the United States Attorney’s Office. He advised and attended dog fights with his co-conspirators, Derrick Owens and Christopher Raines.

He created a seven-week “keep” where he trained dogs for fighting, and prepared online pedigrees for dogs trained and bred at his kennel. He owned various types of “training and conditioning equipment”, including:

  • slat mills
  • chains
  • a staple gun
  • hanging weight scales
  • break sticks
  • flirt poles

Law enforcement investigated a Georgia-based organization that was involved with cocaine distribution and dog fighting. This organization extended from North Georgia, to Florida and Alabama, from May 2019 until Feb. 2020.

In Feb. 2020, officials carried out 15 residential search warrants, and seized more than 150 dogs being used for animal-fighting. Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, with the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, remarks on the case.

“Vernon Vegas is being held accountable for his violent, illegal and inhumane actions,” said Kim. “This case illustrates that dog-fighting is intimately connected with the underworld of drugs and organized crime, and that the Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.”

Vegas’ prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, along with a $10,000 fine.