Dade City Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Heroin And Dogfighting Charges
Tampa, Florida – Josue Antonio Ortega (36, Dade City) today pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute heroin and to violating the animal fighting provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the heroin charge, and up to 5 years in federal prison on the Animal Welfare Act charge.
According to the plea agreement, Ortega participated with others in a dogfighting conspiracy. In 2016, he and his co-conspirators, operating as Boricuba Kennels, sponsored pit bull dogfighting in Pasco County. On October 19, 2016, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Ortega’s property and seized 14 pit bulls—12 of which had wounds and scarring consistent with having recently fought—along with equipment used to condition the dogs for fighting. They also seized over 70 grams of heroin.
The federal Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony to knowingly sell, buy, possess, train, transport, deliver, or receive any animal, including dogs, for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture. Under federal law, an animal fighting venture means “any event, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, that involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least two animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.