DOJ Announces Arrests in Middle Georgia Drug Conspiracy and Dog Fighting Ring Investigation
MACON, GA (STL.News) An indictment was unsealed today charging 11 individuals in a 136-count federal indictment including alleged violations of drug conspiracy, drug distribution, drug possession with the intent to distribute, drug possession, as well as violations of the dog fighting prohibitions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and conspiracy to commit the same, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary of the Middle District of Georgia and Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean Williams for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The defendants include: Jarvis Lockett, 40, of Warner Robins, Georgia; Derrick Owens, 37, of Woodland, Georgia; Christopher Raines, 50, of Talbotton, Georgia; Armard Davis, 41, of Fort Valley, Georgia; Jason Carter, 38, of Phoenix City, Alabama; Shaquille Bentley, 26, of Roberta, Georgia; Bryanna Holmes, 24, of Fort Valley, Georgia; Vernon Vegas, 49, of Suwanee, Georgia; Lekey Davis, 45, of Talbotton, Georgia, Kathy Ann Whitfield, 61, of Columbus, Georgia; and Rodrick Walton, 40, of Shiloh, Georgia.
An indictment is a set of allegations based upon a finding of probable cause by a grand jury. A defendant is presumed innocent until convicted.
“Dog fighting is brutal and illegal; it is particularly troubling when combined with drug trafficking,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary for the Middle District of Georgia. “We will investigate and prosecute individuals who engage in these criminal acts and seek justice for all of their victims. I thank our law enforcement partners for their hard work on this significant investigation.”
“As this case demonstrates, we continue to aggressively prosecute dog fighters and those who work together to support and further their inhumane criminal activities,” said Jean Williams, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We thank our federal and local law enforcement partners who made this operation possible.”
The indictment alleges that defendants Lockett, Owens, Raines, A. Davis, Carter, Bentley, Holmes, Vegas, Lekey Davis and Whitfield were involved in a conspiracy between May 2019 and February 2020 to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base. Lockett is charged in separate counts with distribution of cocaine base and cocaine, and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine. Armard Davis and Holmes are charged in separate counts with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine. Walton is charged in a separate count with possession of cocaine.
The indictment further alleges that defendants Lockett, Owens, Raines, Armard Davis, and Walton were involved in a conspiracy to sponsor and exhibit dogs in a dog fight, and possess, train, transport, deliver, and receive dogs for the purpose of having the dogs participate in a dog fight. The indictment outlines dog fights the defendants are alleged to have attended between May 2019 and February 2020, as well as discussions between the co-conspirators about training and matching up their dogs for fighting. In addition, the defendants are separately charged with possession of dogs for purposes of having the dogs participate in dog fights as follows: Lockett – 15 counts; Raines – 40 counts; Owens – 44 counts, Walton – 18 counts; Armard Davis – 9 counts.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and local law enforcement agencies. and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorney William Keyes and Department of Justice Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell are prosecuting the case. An indictment is a set of allegations based upon a finding of probable cause by a grand jury. A defendant is presumed innocent until convicted. The investigation is ongoing.
Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Officer (Contractor), U.S. Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.