A Carmichael man suspected of being connected with a major dogfighting operation in Mississippi was arrested Wednesday.
Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Ramos said James Leiva, 60, was arrested after a search warrant was served at his home in the 6000 block of Holeton Road in Carmichael. Four dogs also were taken from the residence.
Leiva was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of possession of fighting dogs, possession of a controlled substances for sale and unlawful possession of ammunition by a person prohibited from possessing ammunition or firearms.
Ramos said authorities think Leiva is connected to dogfight activities in Mississippi that were raided over the weekend.
According to the Associated Press, a months-long investigation by numerous federal, state and local agencies culminated Saturday night with a raid on a barn in northern Mississippi, breaking up what was thought to be one of the biggest annual dogfights in the United States. At least 200 people reportedly were gathered in the barn.
"He may have been there," Ramos said of Leiva. "We don't know."
Ramos said the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department also assisted the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in serving search warrants at properties in the Tracy area in San Joaquin County that were thought to be involved in the dogfighting activities.
The warrants in Tracy were served in the 2300 block of Lighthouse Circle and te 2100 block of Elsie Way, Ramos said. Arrested were Kenneth Baldwin, Gracie Baldwin, and Luther Brewer, whose ages were not available. Alleged offenses included possession of fighting dogs, child endangerment and possession of marijuana for sale.
Ramos said 14 dogs were seized from the Tracy properties. Those dogs along with the four seized in Carmichael were placed in the custody of Sacramento County Animal Control
The Humane Society of the United States issued a news release announcing Wednesday's raids and praising the cooperation of law enforcement agencies.
"Dogfighters operate on a national scale, so it took the cooperation and dedication of many agencies working with the Humane Society of the United States to accomplish the successes in California and Mississippi this week," Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting investigations for the Humane Society, said in a written statement. "We are grateful for the leadership of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office on this case, and we hope this sends a message that law enforcement all across the country is taking dogfighting very seriously."
Humane Society officials stressed that participating in animal fighting is a felony under federal law. Under California law, it is a felony to own, possess, keep or train any dog for the purpose of fighting, to stage a dogfight, host a dogfight on your property, or to be a spectator at a dogfight.