Ten men face federal charges in connection with a large-scale dog-fighting ring in the Illinois and Iowa Quad-Cities that dates back to at least 2011.

A grand jury last week handed up indictments against:

• Demarlo A. McCoy, 29, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture, four counts of sponsoring/exhibiting dogs in dog fighting and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Ryan M. Hickman, 42, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Andrew Keywan Lidell, 40, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture, two counts of sponsoring/exhibiting dogs in dog fighting and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Algerron Lee Goldsmith, 46, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Simmeon Terrell Hall, 28, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture, transport and delivery of dogs for dog fighting and three counts sponsoring/exhibiting dogs in dog fighting.

• Stantrel Vontrez Knight, 28, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture, sponsoring/exhibiting dogs in dog fighting and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Sherrick Cornelius Houston, 43, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting.

• Willie Earl Jackson, 34, of Rock Island, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture and sponsoring/exhibiting dogs in dog fighting.

• Terrell Onterial McDuffy, 43, of Davenport, charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture.

• Jaquan Leontae Jones, 27, of Rock Island, charged with knowingly attending a dog fight, a misdemeanor.

Goldsmith pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Rock Island. He has a detention hearing Wednesday.

McDuffy and Houston also will be in court Wednesday for arraignment and detention hearings. Hickman, Jackson and Knight will be arraigned Friday.

Information was not available late Tuesday afternoon for Jones, Hall, McCoy and Lidell.

Although the indictments were handed up last week, they were sealed until authorities began making arrests Tuesday.

On April 14, investigators seized 64 pit bull-type dogs from 10 homes in Rock Island and one in Davenport as part of an investigation into a dog-fighting ring that began a year earlier through information developed by the Rock Island Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Quad-Cities Federal Gang Task Force.

Rock Island Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen said Tuesday the department has never seen a dog-fighting ring “on this scale” locally.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done as far as prosecution, but we’re happy to see these indictments come down,” he said. “I think it sends a strong message that this type of activity is not going to be tolerated and that there are severe consequences if you engage in it.”

The seized dogs were placed into the custody of the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals.

No dog-fighting charges were filed immediately following the seizures, but Hickman and Jackson were arrested on drug offenses. 

Among the allegations included in the indictment to support the conspiracy charges against McCoy, Hickman, Lidell, Goldsmith, Knight, McDuffy, Hall, Houston and Jackson: 

• They learned the rules of dog fighting, such as Cajun, Southern and Northern rules, and used them to sponsor fights between dogs and exhibit dogs in fights in the Illinois and Iowa Quad-Cities and in other states.

• They learned dog breeding techniques and identified fighting-dog bloodlines and used those techniques to treat dogs that had suffered fighting injuries.

• They learned techniques to treat injuries sustained by the dogs in fights and used those techniques to treat dogs that had suffered injuries.

• They discussed and disseminated information, including videos, of past fights to establish the fighting reputations of specific dogs, maximize their value for breeding litters of fighting dogs and maximize the men’s reputations as fighting-dog trainers and breeders.

• They attempted to obstruct investigation of their animal fighting venture by animal control and police by killing and otherwise disposing of injured dogs and misrepresented the origin of the dogs’ injuries and treated them without professional veterinary assistance.

• They obscured their ownership of particular fighting dogs by housing them at locations other than where the defendants lived.

• They killed or disposed of dogs that lost fights or otherwise failed to demonstrate fighting abilities satisfactory to them.

• They contacted breeders of fighting dogs in other states to purchase dogs with high-fighting qualities and traveled to purchase the dogs and bring them back to the Quad-Cities.

The indictment also claims that Jones attended a dog fight on April 26, 2015.

Federal prosecutors on April 15 filed a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of the seized dogs. They said in the civil complaint that the dogs were involved in and used to commit or facilitate the dog-fighting venture.

Twenty-seven of the seized dogs have been forfeited to the government per an order issued by U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow. On Jan. 26, she also granted prosecutors’ motion for default against 24 additional dogs.

Two dogs seized in April were euthanized pursuant to a court order, and five dogs were voluntarily surrendered.

Three dogs have died, according to prosecutors. There are three dogs whose claims remain unresolved.

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