The arrests culminate a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police Department in Alabama. If convicted, the suspects could face up to five years in prison, as well as fines and restitution. The Associated Press reported court-appointed attorneys for the suspects said they plan to plead not guilty on Wednesday at an arraignment.
"We are committing to eradicating dog fighting in every dark corner where it festers," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS in a statement. "This series of raids reminds every dogfighter that they are not beyond the law and their day of reckoning will come."
Dog fighting is considered a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Earlier this year, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, was reintroduced to Congress. The bill would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional fines for bringing a minor to such an event. It has been in a committee since April.
In July 2009, law enforcement officials executed the largest dog fighting crackdown in U.S. history, resulting in the rescue of more than 500 dogs and more than 100 arrests in an eight-state raid spanning Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi.