Major dog fighting ring broken up

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

Sheriff Darby says animals had been abused with narcotics at the scene

By Jeremy Weldon

Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby said a tip from a concerned citizen, and cooperation from other law enforcement officers resulted in the break-up of a large and organized dog-fighting ring near Como last weekend.

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“It’s really just the tip of the iceberg, but it was significant,” Darby said. “Our deputies did a good job in handling this case and we are expecting a lot more to come out of this one bust.”

The participants in the dog fighting ring were coming to Panola County to trade and fight the dogs. Officers say thousands of dollars are often wagered on the outcome of the fights, prompting dog owners to mistreat the animals even more, giving them powerful narcotics forcing them to attack more viciously.

“What they are doing will not be tolerated in Panola County, and we will search every corner until we get to all the people involved,” Darby said. He said the fight leaders are understandably secretive about the locations of their operations, often because they are also involved in illegal drug trade and many are on probation that prohibits them from associating with other felons.

“It takes all the help we can get from the people of the community to stay on top of this,” the sheriff said.

Darby said some of the dogs rescued during the bust were suffering from mangled limbs and other serious injuries from the fighting. Syringes and similar paraphernalia were also found on the scene.

As many as 30 people were present when lawmen arrived, but most ran into adjoining wooded areas and could not be located. Those who had driven vehicles to the scene were arrested and charged by authorities.

Scottie Durell Draper was still being pursued by officials this week. It was his property, reports said, where the dog fighting had been ongoing. He will be charged with a litany of crimes when located and arrested.