New Orleans, Louisiana - A Louisiana man pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of an animal for use in an animal fighting venture.

According to court documents, beginning as early as June 22, 2017, Clay Turner, 61, of Loranger, possessed and trained dogs for the purpose of having them participate in animal fighting ventures. On telephone calls obtained via court-authorized wiretaps, Turner and others discussed gambling on dog fights, arranging and participating in dog fights, sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fights, training and housing dogs for the purposes of dog fighting, commerce in and transport of fighting dogs and the promotion of dog fights. Turner also stated he would give the dogs “dex,” referring to Dexamethasone—a substance that causes bowel evacuation—to achieve proper weight for the dog fights.

On or about Oct. 24, 2017, a federal law enforcement team consisting of agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies, executed a search warrant on Turner’s residence in Loranger. During the search, 33 dogs were found on the property, many of which had injuries, scarring, and/or wounding consistent with dog fighting activities. Law enforcement also recovered a large collection of dog fighting paraphernalia.

“Our system of justice does not tolerate the torment and death of animals in this blood sport for personal entertainment or financial gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Beyond the harm imposed on these dogs, animal shelters, nonprofit organizations, and the taxpayers pay the price for caring for the dogs once they are no longer useful to the dog fighters. We will aggressively pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in animal fighting of any kind.”

Turner pleaded guilty to possession of an animal for an animal fighting venture. Turner is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Trial Attorneys Matthew D. Evans and Christopher Hale of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shih of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana are prosecuting the case.