A Forestville, Maryland, man is the latest defendant to plead guilty to federal charges related to a local dogfighting ring that held fights in an area ranging from North Carolina to Philadelphia.
Laron Mecco “Frog” West, 46, pleaded guilty Nov. 10 to charges of running the conspiracy that he and his co-defendants called The DMV Board.
The dogfighting ring operated from at least May 2015 through August 2020. Prosecutors said West and the others created a private group in a messaging app and discussed ways to train dogs to fight, exchanged videos about dogfighting and scheduled fights.
In a news release announcing the guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said members of the group also used the messaging app “to compare methods of killing dogs that lost fights, as well as to circulate media reports about conspirators who had been caught by law enforcement and discuss methods to minimize the likelihood that they would be caught themselves.”
On some occasions, some of the dogs who lost fights were killed by members of the DMV Board, and there are reports some of the men bragged about their actions.
Prosecutors said West posted in the group in October 2018 about killing dogs that failed to fight aggressively enough, saying he “loves to throw [the dogs] over the bridge and into the water.”
In August, West; Charles Edward Williams III, 48, of Capitol Heights; Michael Roy Hilliard, 37, of Fort Washington, and four others were indicted. Earlier this month, Williams and Hilliard pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy as West. Trial for three of the remaining defendants is set for Dec. 6.
West, Williams and Hilliard are each scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21, 2023. Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The trial for three of the remaining defendants is set for Dec. 6.
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