Arrest For Creation And Distribution Of Animal Crushing Videos, Exhibition Of Animals In Animal Fighting Ventures
Sunday, March 6, 2016
31 Dogs Seized by Law Enforcement
SAN JUAN, P.R. – On March 4, 2016, Ehbrin Castro-Correa (Castro-Correa) was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, for violations to 18 USC § 48(b)(1)(B) and (b)(2), the creation of an animal crush video and its distribution in interstate commerce; and 18 USC § 49(a), a violation of 7 USC § 2156(a)(1), which prohibits the sponsoring and exhibiting of an animal in an animal fighting venture, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The arrest warrant was issued by US Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin based on a Complaint and affidavit presented on March 5, 2016. This is the first case of this nature presented in the District of Puerto Rico.
The sworn affidavit attached to the Complaint alleges that on March 4, 2016, at approximately 4:48 p.m., Castro-Correa arrived at the Pan American Dock (PAD), in San Juan, Puerto Rico in a 2005 white Dodge Dakota pickup truck. Federal agents observed several canines being transported inside crates located within the pickup truck’s bed area. At approximately 5:45 p.m., HSI Agents then observed when Castro-Correa placed six (6) crates – each containing a canine - in the luggage drop off area before he went to present his boarding pass to board the Caribbean Fantasy Ferry. Castro-Correa presented documentation showing he was the owner of the six (6) canines, Spanish Alano (Spanish Bulldog) breed dogs, 4 male and 2 female. He then went to check in to board the ferry at where he showed the CBP Officers a boarding pass. The boarding pass indicated that Castro-Correa was traveling to the Dominican Republic along with pets. The CBP officers referred Castro-Correa to a secondary inspection in which he was subject to a more thorough search of his belongings. All passengers travelling with canines were submitted to secondary inspection.
During the secondary inspection, Castro-Correa was interviewed by HSI Agents. Castro-Correa indicated that he was transporting the canines to the Dominican Republic, that he was paid $800.00 to do so, and that the canines belonged to someone else. Agents were able to inspect Castro-Correa’s cellular phone. The cellular phone contained three videos, an original six-minute video of a dog fight, and two shorter clips made of that same video. The six-minute video depicts a fight between two pit bull female dogs, and two men are overheard encouraging the canines to fight. Castro-Correa admitted that he filmed the video recording. The two clips of the original video were transmitted in interstate and foreign commerce using a communications application known as WhatsApp.
The affidavit further alleges that a search of Castro-Correa’s residence in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, was conducted during the evening of March 4, 2016. A preliminary search of the residence revealed several man-made structures made either of concrete or wood with chicken wire that were used as cages. Other structures were simply made-man pits that did not have any overhead cover exposing the dogs to the elements. The dogs inside the cages appeared to be adult dogs that could barely fit inside the cages. Agents observed a total of twenty-five (25) dogs in back area of the residence. There were approximately nine (9) puppies out of the twenty-five (25) found. The conditions in which the dogs were found were deplorable. Some were chained or tied to a structure, or a cement cylinder block or palet, while others were caged, and/or exposed to the elements. The water containers from the dogs were expected to drink from were dirty. Most of the dogs appeared to be pit bulls, and some of them had scars in their muzzle areas and faces. Inside the residence, agents found a man-made treadmill designed for training dogs, old newspaper articles of dog fights, a bag containing what appeared to be medications such as antibiotics, iron and calcium supplements for dogs and dressing compounds, among other evidence. Also seized was what appeared to be medication that requires the use of syringes, along with an open bag containing several syringes.
“This is the first case investigated and prosecuted in this District involving the promotion of dog fights and the creation and distribution of dog fighting videos. The cruelty to which these animals have been submitted is appalling, and this case should put everyone on notice that we will not tolerate this type of inhumane treatment of animals,” said United States Attorney Rodriguez-Velez.
"One does not have to be a pet lover to condemn animal cruelty," said Ricardo Mayoral, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI has distinguished itself for protecting our children from online predators and those who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society but it's also important to let people know that we will not tolerate animal cruelty as well. We will continue identifying, investigating, and with the help of our partners, prosecuting those who show total disregard for animals. It is despicable, it is inhumane and it is against the law."
The case was investigated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, with the collaboration of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The dogs have been seized and will be under the custody and care of the U.S. Marshals Service. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauzá, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dina Avila-Jiménez. The defendant faces a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison for the violations to 18 USC § 48(b)(1)(B) and (b)(2); and up to five years in prison for the violations to 18 USC § 49(a) and 7 USC § 2156(a)(1). The Complaint contains allegations and is not evidence of guilt, the defendant is presumed innocent until his guilt is proven by the government beyond a reasonable doubt.
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico
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