Skip to main content
Press Release

Placerville Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Possessing 27 Dogs for Fighting

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Carlos Villasenor, 40, of Placerville, was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for possession of dogs for use in an animal fighting venture, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Villasenor was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine and a $2,700 special assessment.

According to court documents, Villasenor operated a dog breeding business in which he bred dogs from a number of well-known and desirable dogfighting bloodlines. Villasenor transported dogs between California and Mexico for dogfighting, trained dogs for dogfighting on his property in Placerville, and sold dogs to buyers primarily outside California.

In September 2020, the sound of dogfighting, with humans egging the dogs on, could be heard from Villasenor’s Placerville property. In June 2021, law enforcement agents executed a federal search warrant at Villasenor’s property and seized 27 pit bull-type dogs, one of whom had injuries to its face consistent with an attack from another dog. Agents also seized one chihuahua mix that was used as a “bait dog.” Approximately half the dogs were tethered by heavy chains and spaced so that they could see one another, but not reach one another, in order to frustrate the dogs and foster aggression. Many of the dogs had untreated veterinary conditions. Numerous implements of the dogfighting trade were found on the property, including a breeding stand, treadmills, and veterinary supplies including skin staplers, antibiotics, syringes, and IV bags. In his plea agreement in December 2022, Villasenor surrendered his interest in the dogs and property seized by law enforcement.

Evidence in the case, including phone records, showed that Villasenor engaged in the sale of dogs for profit, selling dogs both within and outside California. Villasenor used his reputation to build a clientele outside of the West Coast, for the purpose of keeping his dogs outside the hands of his competition in the Bay Area. He also traveled to Mexico to further the illegal sport. His history in the business of breeding, selling, and fighting dogs dates back to at least 2009.

This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with assistance from El Dorado County Animal Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Hemesath prosecuted the case.

Updated February 23, 2024

Animal Welfare