Dogfighting, meth cookers, & the KKK
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2005:
ANDERSON, S.C.–Firefighters responding to a March 20
explosion and fire at a methamphetamine still in Anderson County,
South Carolina, found 23 pit bull terriers chained to nearby trees,
along with 24 Chihuahuas and an Akita. Burn victim John Woods was
airlifted to Augusta, Georgia for emergency care. Quilla Ralph
Woods, 59, and Brenda Joyce Keaton, 51, with charged with
illegally manufacturing methadrine. Q.R. Woods “has a 15-page
criminal history dating to 1966 and is listed on the state’s sex
offender registry,” reported Charmaine Smith and Kelly Davis of the
Anderson Independent-Mail. Q.R. Woods also was charged with
possession of a firearm by a felon.
The circumstances under which the dogs were found would
appear virtually certain to bring related criminal convictions, but
prosecutors have often run into legal obstacles in pursuing charges
against suspected breeders of fighting dogs and the breeders’
spouses. The main difficulty is in proving that the breeders and
their spouses knew that the dogs were used for criminal activity.
Different judges have twice in four months thrown out
racketeering charges filed against Luther Johnson Jr., 38, of
Wetumka, Oklahoma, alleged organizer of a dogfighting ring that
police hit with a series of raids between May and July 2004.
Johnson, his girlfriend Shevetta Lee, and his brother LeShon
Johnson, 34, an ex-pro football player, allegedly owned 68 of the
225 pit bulls who were seized in the raids. LeShon Johnson is also
seeking dismissal of racketeering and conspiracy charges.
All charges against Lee were dropped in December 2004. She
is now seeking to reclaim the 50-odd pit bulls who remain in custody
at the Tulsa Animal Shelter.
Of the 30 other people arrested during the raids, about half
have accepted plea bargains, Hughes County assistant district
attorney Linda Evans told Anthony Thornton at The Oklahoman.
A Mobile County Circuit Court jury on March 18 convicted
Walter Tyrone Ware, 33, of six counts pertained to dogfighting and
possession of illegal steroids, but acquitted his wife Tanisa
Latrice Ware, 31, who testified that she knew nothing of the
activities that occurred on her land and never saw the dogs. All 23
dogs removed from the property were euthanized. Mobile veterinarian
John Symes testified that that many were severely injured and
emaciated. Six had fresh bite wounds.
Regardless of the outcome of dogfights and dogfighting cases,
the dogs are the ultimate losers, Louisiana SPCA executive director
Laura Maloney reminded the public after euthanizing 56 pit bulls on
March 14 who were seized three days earlier from reputed dogfighting
ringleaders Floyd Boudreaux, 70, and his son Guy Boudreaux, 40.
Forty alleged gamecocks were seized in the same raid, which came
just over a month after 53 pit bulls were seized in the reported
biggest ever dogfighting raid in Mississippi, two months after 88
pit bulls were seized in the reported biggest ever dogfighting raid
in Texas. The SPCA of Texas was judicially authorized to euthanize
the Texas dogs at the discretion of senior staff. Doll Stanley of In
Defense of Animals’ Mississippi Project took in the Mississippi dogs,
along with nine more pit bulls who were seized five days before the
Both Floyd and Guy Boudreaux were charged with dogfighting, cruelty
to animals, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, and illegal
possession of steroids. The accused face potential fines of $25,000
per charge plus 10 years in prison.
The Louisiana SPCA adopts out pit bulls, unlike many shelters, and
Maloney has a pet pit bull, but she judged the Boudreaux pit bulls
to be too aggressive, even those who were puppies, to take chances
Floyd Boudreaux sold pit bulls throughout the U.S., and to
Mexico and Japan, police said, allegedly promoting them as “a piece
The history of pit bulls in the South is inextricably
intertwined with that of the Ku Klux Klan. Introduced to the U.S.
from Britain as a waterfront gambling activity, dogfighting spread
throughout the South with the rise of the Klan after the Civil War.
Until the 1930s the Klan in the South openly raised funds and
recruited membership through dogfights, cockfights, raccoon hunting
with dogs, and pigeon shoots. States with Klan-dominated
legislatures were the last to ban dogfighting, and among the last to
ban cockfighting (still legal in Louisiana).
White supremacist motorcycle and “skinhead” gangs
reintroduced dogfighting to the west in the 1970s and 1980s, after
it had been all but eliminated for half a century. Closely
associated with methadrine trafficking, dogfighting appears to have
crossed into the Afro-American and Hispanic inner city drug cultures
and into Native American reservations during the 1980s via prison
An allegedly racially motivated February 15 incident in Great
Falls, Montana encapsulated much of this history in microcosm.
Terry Lee Wells, 19, and Casey A. Klotz, 18, allegedly drove
alongside a car driven by a 22-year-old Afro-American they did not
know, yelled racial insults at him, chased him to his home, stoned
his car, set a pit bull terrier on him, beat him, and stole his
jacket and wallet, which were found by police in Klotz’s car.
Klotz, a Caucasian woman, was charged with theft and criminal
mischief. A warrant was issued for Wells’ arrest on a charge of
felony criminal endangerment.
A Native American, Wells was already on probation for using
a baseball bat to break the arm of a man who refused to fight him in
June 2002, and was to be tried on April for criminal possession of
dangerous drugs with intent to distribute.
The association of white supremacists with the breeding of
fighting dogs was again exposed on March 14 in San Francisco, when
attorneys for Marjorie Knoller, 49, asked the California First
District Court of Appeal to reverse her involuntary manslaughter
conviction for the January 2001 dog-mauling death of neighbor Diane
Whipple, 33. On the same day, the prosecution asked the same
court to reinstate a second degree murder conviction against Knoller,
set aside by trial judge James Warren before she was sentenced.
Knoller’s husband, Robert Noel, 63, was also convicted of
involuntary manslaughter, and has also appealed.
Summarized Associated Press legal affairs writer David
Kravets, “Knoller and Robert Noel were keeping a pair of Presa
Canarios [a mix of pit bull and mastiff developed for dogfighting in
the Canary Islands] for a white supremacist prison inmate when the
dogs attacked Whipple.” The inmate, reputed Aryan Brotherhood
kingpin Paul Schneider, 42, is serving a life sentence.
“Noel’s attorney claims that Noel being portrayed as a white
supremacist sympathizer prejudiced the jury. Knoller also makes that
claim,” Kravets wrote.
Both Knoller and Noel, now disbarred, were attorneys who
represented Schneider and other alleged Aryan Brother-hood members.
A disbarred attorney and two Presa Canarios, also called
bull mastiffs, were also involved on February 28, 2005, when Paul
E. Meyer, 57, drew 10 days in jail from Akron Municipal Court Judge
Alison McCarty, after a year-long court battle.
In May 2003, Meyer’s two dogs mauled a neighbor’s golden
retriever in Bath Township, an Akron suburb, then bit and
flattened a tire of an investigating police officer’s cruiser. These
were the eighth and ninth reported violent incidents involving the
dogs since June 2000. Convicted on two counts of failing to restrain
a dangerous dog and one count of failing to register a dog, all
misdemeanors, Meyer appealed unsuccessfully to the Ninth District
Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.
Meyer’s license to practice law was suspended in 1997 after
he admitted having a drug abuse problem and pleaded guilty to grand
theft and trafficking in food stamps. Meyer was investigated for
violating the suspension in 2000 after appearing in federal court
with a man who was accused of urinating on a park ranger’s car.