Placerville man admits to dogfighting crimes

Mountain Democrat Report

A Placerville man accused of possessing nearly 30 dogs used for dog fighting pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

According to court documents, Carlos Villasenor, 40, operated a dog breeding business in which he bred dogs from a number of well-known and desirable dogfighting bloodlines. Villasenor transported dogs between California and Mexico for the purpose of dog fighting, trained dogs for dogfighting on his property in Placerville and sold dogs to buyers primarily outside California.

The investigation stemmed from a September 2020 report of the sound of dogfighting with humans egging the dogs on heard from Villasenor’s Placerville property. In June 2021 law enforcement agents executed a federal search warrant at Villasenor’s property and seized 27 pit bull-type dogs, one of whom had injuries to its face consistent with an attack from another dog. 

Agents also seized one chihuahua mix they say was used as a “bait dog.” 

Approximately half the dogs were tethered by heavy chains and spaced so they could see one another but not reach one another, in order to frustrate the dogs and foster aggression, according to court documents. Many of the dogs had untreated medical conditions.

Law enforcement agents also said they found numerous implements of the dog fighting trade on the property, including a breeding stand, treadmills and veterinary supplies such as skin staplers, antibiotics, syringes and IV bags. 

Talbert noted that in Villasenor’s plea agreement he surrendered his interest in the dogs and property seized by law enforcement.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with assistance from El Dorado County Animal Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Hemesath is prosecuting the case.

Villasenor is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge William B. Shubb March 20, 2023. Villasenor faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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