Together with federal and state law enforcement partners, the Office has been a leader in efforts to combat many forms of animal cruelty.
Race-Horse Doping Charges: In March 2020, the Office announced charges against 27 defendants relating to the systematic and covert administration of illegal performance-enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) to racehorses competing across the United States and abroad. The four unsealed indictments each alleged the shipment and administration of adulterated and misbranded drugs designed to secretly and dangerously enhance the racing performance of horses beyond their natural ability, a dishonest practice that placed the lives of affected animals at risk. The charges arose from an investigation of widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing.
Prosecution of Large-Scale Ivory Traffickers: In June 2019, the Office announced charges against four members of an Africa-based criminal enterprise for trafficking rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory (two of the defendants were also charged with conspiring to distribute heroin). The scheme allegedly involved the illegal poaching of protected wildlife species, including more than approximately 35 rhinoceros and approximately 100 elephants, yielding ivory valued at more than $7 million. As charged in the indictment, the defendants conspired to transport, distribute, sell, and smuggle at least approximately 190 kilograms of rhinoceros horns and at least approximately 10 tons of elephant ivory from or involving various countries in Africa to buyers in the United States and countries in Southeast Asia. One of the defendants is in custody, another is awaiting extradition, and two more are fugitives.
Dog Fighting Trial Conviction: In August 2018, the Office secured the first-ever trial conviction of a dog fighter on federal animal cruelty charges. The defendant, Rasheem Richardson, kept and trained at least eleven pit bull terriers at a residence in the Bronx. Richardson enlisted these animals in dog fights and agreed with others to breed his dogs for the purpose of producing additional fighters. In November 2018, the Court sentenced Richardson to 27 months’ imprisonment.
Cockfighting Trial Conviction: In June 2018, a jury convicted Thomas Carrano, the former leader of the New York Chapter of United Gamefowl Breeders Association, at trial, for his role in raising, training, and selling roosters for cockfighting. The evidence showed that cockfighting typically involves strapping metal or plastic spurs to the participating roosters' natural spurs and ends when one bird is dead or refuses to continue to fight. Between January 2012 and his summer 2017 arrest, Carrano conspired with others—including a Bronx-based man—to breed and train roosters for cockfighting. When law enforcement executed a search warrant at Carrano’s Ontario, New York farm in May 2017, they found metal and plastic spurs, a rooster sparring dummy, a specialized ladder used to train fighting roosters, cockfighting supplements, and videos of roosters being trained for cockfights. In December 2018, the Court sentenced Carrano to 14 months’ imprisonment.