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Department of Defense deputy chief among those charged with illegal dog fighting ring

Crystal Graham
large dog in black and white
(© Iulia – stock.adobe.com)

A Department of Defense communications deputy chief and one other man have been charged with facilitating an illegal dog fighting ring in Maryland.

Frederick Douglass Moorefield, Jr., 62, of Arnold, Md., and Mario Damon Flythe, 49, of Glen Burnie, Md., were released pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson on Sept. 28.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Moorefield, a deputy chief information officer for command, control, and communications, for Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Flythe used an encrypted messaging application to communicate with individuals throughout the United States to discuss dogfighting.

Moorefield used the name “Geehad Kennels” and Flythe used the name “Razor Sharp Kennels” to identify their respective dogfighting operations.

“As ugly and horrific as it is, dogfighting can be found just beneath the surface of civil society, with the perpetrators maintaining the veneer of mainstream participation in society,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, a nonprofit with a mission to help animals by promoting laws and regulations that forbid cruelty to animals. “Credit goes to the United States for breaking up this dogfighting ring and more broadly stepping up its interdictions of animal fighting ventures. But the scale of the problem is staggering, and we must respond with even more vigorous efforts to pull up animal fighting at the root.

“No dog should endure the kind of pain and torment that fighting animals endure in the pit and after their handlers decide they are no longer useful to them,” Pacelle said.

As detailed in the affidavit, Moorefield, Flythe and their associates used the encrypted messaging application to discuss how to train dogs for illegal dogfighting, exchanged videos about dogfighting and arranged and coordinated dogfights.  Moorefield and Flythe also discussed betting on dogfighting, discussed dogs that died as a result of dogfighting and circulated media reports about dogfighters who had been caught by law enforcement.  As further alleged in the affidavit, Moorefield and others also discussed how to conceal their conduct from law enforcement.

On Sept. 6, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at Moorefield and Flythe’s residences in Maryland.

Following the execution of these warrants, 12 dogs were recovered and seized by the federal government.

Law enforcement also recovered veterinary steroids, training schedules, a carpet that appeared to be stained with blood and a weighted dog vest with a patch reading “Geehad Kennels.”

In addition, law enforcement officers seized a device consisting of an electrical plug and jumper cables, which the affidavit alleges is consistent with devices used to execute dogs.

According to Animal Wellness Action, both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have issued the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking Act, and the authors hope to include the provision as an amendment to the Farm bill.

Both pieces of legislation were driven by concerns for the barbarism of animal fighting, other criminal behavior comingled with it, and disease threats to poultry posed by transporting fighting roosters.

U.S. Representatives Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Andrea Salinas (D-Oregon), along with U.S. Senators Cory Booker, (D-NJ) and John Kennedy, (R-LA), are the leaders of the bipartisan, bicameral FIGHT Act.

The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning simulcasting and gambling of animal fighting ventures; halting the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) shipped through the U.S. mail (it is already illegal to ship dogs through the mail); creating a citizen suit provision, after proper notice to federal authorities, to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and enhancing forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.