ELIZABETH (WABC) -- Ten people are facing criminal charges following the weekend breakup of a dog fighting ring operating in New Jersey.
The arrests were made Saturday night in a home on Magnolia Avenue in Elizabeth and following a traffic stop of a van nearby.
Authorities say they found 17 dogs, several with obvious injuries and most being kept in small, dirty steel or plastic cages, inside the home and van. They also recovered a treadmill allegedly used to build up the dogs' endurance levels in preparation for fights, a dog fighting ring stained with blood, a pellet gun, marijuana and a stolen ATV.
The suspects were identified as 19-year-old Shaquille Mars, 20-year-old Leon King, 20-year-old Rahman Johnson, 21-year-old Tamir Norville, 22-year-old George Parker, Jr., 28-year-old Larry Polanco, 32-year-old Shakemah Lytle-Johnson, 36-year-old Algernon Norville and 64-year-old Nathaniel Thompson, all of Elizabeth, as well as 21-year-old Rashadik Johnson, of Irvington.
Norville was charged with a second-degree certain persons offense for possession of the pellet gun, third-degree fighting or baiting animals, and marijuana possession; his bail was set at $75,000.
The remaining defendants were charged with third-degree fighting or baiting animals and released on summonses, with the exception of Thomspon, who was held on $20,000 bond.
The dogs recovered as a result of this operation are currently in the custody of the SCPA. It is expected that they will be evaluated by veterinary specialists with the intent of placing them in rehabilitative care elsewhere in the state.
The New Jersey statute criminalizing dog fighting was amended in 2013 in order to make involvement in such activity a third-degree criminal offense punishable by three to five years in state prison.