SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On September 22, 2023, Antonio Casillas Montero, the owner of Stone City Kennels, was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act and for possession of dogs for use in animal fighting ventures, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
According to the facts stipulated by the parties, for over 35 years, Casillas ran Stone City Kennels, which participated in over 150 dog fights. Casillas bred pit-bull type dogs for fights in Puerto Rico, México, Ecuador, Perú, the Dominican Republic, and various cities in the continental United States. During a search of his property in Humacao, several pit-bull type dogs were seized which suffered from pustules, fungus, lameness, and jaw clamping.
In its sentencing memorandum (see PDF attached), the Government argued that “Casillas’s conduct is on the extreme end of the spectrum of cruelty in an already cruel form of abuse.” According to the evidence presented by the Government, Casillas would use veterinarians in Puerto Rico to obtain health certificates to send fighting dogs to the Dominican Republic on a ferry, where the dogs would be trained in the weeks before matches. During the fights, which could last for over 1.5 hours, Casillas would let losing dogs perish from their injuries, rather than removing them from a fight. During the sentencing hearing, the Government presented a video of one of Casillas’ dogs dying after a match in the Dominican Republic while being insulted for its defeat.
In addition to fighting numerous dogs, Casillas organized large, international matches. He and his partners would breed fighting dogs for sale for thousands of dollars and ship them on airplanes from Puerto Rico around the world. The Government presented evidence of inquiries from potential customers in South America and Europe regarding Stone City Kennels’ dogs. Casillas would also mentor dog fighters on training techniques with steroids. Evidence presented by the Government indicated that Casillas was considered a “Caribbean legend” of dogfighting.
“Dogfighting for entertainment and profit is not only cruel and inhumane, but also a violation of federal law,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. “This sentencing ends the defendant’s decades-long involvement in this illegal business and hopefully will deter others.”
“The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, actively investigates allegations of animal abuse. This agency has made animal fighting a high priority in order to demonstrate that these blatant acts of cruelty to animals will no longer be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Miles Davis. “We would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for aggressively prosecuting perpetrators of animal fighting, our federal law enforcement partners, and United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Investigative Enforcement Services for their dedicated work in this investigation.”
HSI San Juan Special Agent in Charge Rebecca González-Ramos said, “This sentencing is a strong message of a firm stance against animal cruelty; we must work together to create more humane and compassionate societies. This sentencing of this individual who profited from the illegal and cruel practice of dog fighting does exactly that: hold those who profit from animal cruelty accountable.”
The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Homeland Security investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Gottfried of the Violent Crimes Section prosecuted the case.
If you have information regarding dog fights or animal cruelty, please call PRPB Office of the Coordinator of Law 154 at (787)793-1234, extensions 3128 and 3131.