San Juan, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested a man March 4 in Rio Grande for the creation of an animal crush video and its distribution in interstate commerce and for sponsoring and exhibiting of an animal in an animal fighting venture.
According to the criminal complaint, Ehbrin Castro-Correa arrived March 4 at the Pan-American Dock in a pickup truck with several dogs inside crates. At approximately 5:45 p.m., HSI special agents observed he placed six crates, each containing a dog, in the luggage drop off area before he presented his boarding pass to board the Caribbean Fantasy Ferry.
Castro-Correa presented documentation showing he was the owner of the six Spanish bulldog canines. He then went to check in to board the ferry where he showed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers a boarding pass. The boarding pass indicated that he was traveling to the Dominican Republic along with pets. The CBP officer referred him to a secondary inspection in which he was subject to a more thorough search of his belongings.
During the inspection, HSI special agents interviewed Castro-Correa who indicated that he was transporting the canines to the Dominican Republic, he was paid $800.00 to do so and that the canines belonged to someone else.
HSI special agents were able to inspect Castro-Correa’s cellular phone. The cellular phone contained three videos: an original six-minute video of a dog fight and two shorter clips made of that same video. The six-minute video depicts a fight between two pit bull female dogs and two men are overheard encouraging the canines to fight. Castro-Correa admitted that he filmed the video recording. The two clips of the original video were transmitted in interstate and foreign commerce using WhatsApp.
The criminal complaint further alleges that a search of Castro-Correa’s residence in Rio Grande revealed several man-made cages and pits that did not have any overhead cover exposing the dogs to the elements. The dogs inside the cages appeared to be adult dogs that could barely fit inside the cages. HSI special agents observed a total 25 dogs, nine of them puppies, in deplorable conditions. Some were chained or tied to a structure while others were caged and/or exposed to the elements with dirty water containers. Most dogs appeared to be pit bulls and some of them had scars in their muzzle areas and faces. Inside the residence, HSI special agents found a man-made treadmill designed for training dogs, old newspaper articles of dog fights, a bag containing what appeared to be antibiotics, iron and calcium supplements for dogs, dressing compounds and medication that requires the use of syringes along with an open bag containing several syringes.
“One does not have to be a pet lover to condemn animal cruelty,” said Ricardo Mayoral, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI has distinguished itself for protecting our children from online predators and those who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society but it's also important to let people know that we will not tolerate animal cruelty as well. We will continue identifying, investigating, and with the help of our partners, prosecuting those who show total disregard for animals. It is despicable, it is inhumane and it is against the law.”
The dogs are under the custody and care of the U.S. Marshals Service. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauzá,
Castro-Correa faces a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison for the violations.