Tommy J. “Snakes” Watson and Johnnie Lee Nelson Jr. appeared in court Monday on charges connecting them to a dog fighting ring.
The two New Jersey men allegedly used Telegram to organize dog fights across multiple states and used the messaging app to livestream videos of dog fight training, the actual fights and the hanging of underperforming dogs from 2017 to 2019, the DOJ claimed in a press release.
Watson and Nelson stand accused of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act by allegedly conspiring “with others to fight, train, transport and possess pit bull-type dogs” for dog fights, the DOJ noted.
The Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966, is the sole federal law in the country that regulates the treatment of animals across a wide spectrum of scenarios from research to exhibition to transport, according to the National Agricultural Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The DOJ claimed that the two defendants dubbed their outfit “From Da Bottom Kennels,” which not only forced dogs to fight, but also “housed and trained dogs for dog fighting and acquired, without veterinarian assistance or scrutiny, medical equipment including skin staplers to treat dogs injured during fights”.
Watson also is charged by the DOJ with “unlawful possession of ammunition that he brought to the dog fight event,” the press release reads.
Prosecutors allege that the duo “sought to enrich themselves by placing wagers on dog fights, taking steps to collect bets, collecting bets, and distributing proceeds”, NJ.com reported.
If convicted, each defendant could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each “count of animal fighting charges,” the DOJ release explains. Watson could also face 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for the ammunition possession charge.