Thursday, July 9, 2009

Green Country man charged with dogfighting

A Green Country man was charged on Wednesday for taking part in a dogfighting ring.

According to U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling, 57-year-old Jerry Matlock of Stilwell was arrested Wednesday morning in Cherokee County.

Matlock is charged with three felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison a $250,000 fine.

Count 1 is conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to participate in a criminal dog-fighting enterprise, to sponsor an interstate animal fighting venture, and to buy, transport, deliver or receive a dog for purposes of participation in an animal fighting venture.

Counts 2 and 3 are for sponsorship or participation in an interstate animal fighting venture and transporting an animal for purposes of participation in an interstate animal fighting venture.

Matlock's arrest is part of a Midwestern bust that included 30 arrests in five states.

Animal welfare groups call it the largest simultaneous raid of dogfighting operations in the U.S.

Authorities said that the raids were conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma.

The raids followed a more than year-long investigation prompted by information from the Humane Society of Missouri, which says it reached out to others when it realized the scope of the operations.