Alabama felon indicted on federal dog fighting charges; 78 dogs were seized, along with guns

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

An Alabama felon has been indicted on federal dog fighting and weapons charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury indicted Carlton Lenard Adams, 51, of Bessemer and Adger, on charges of illegally possessing dogs for fighting purposes and illegally possessing three firearms subsequent to a felony conviction.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama unsealed the indictment in conjunction with Adams’ arrest Wednesday.

According to court documents filed in this case, Adams maintained a stock of 78 fighting dogs at three properties – two in Bessemer and one in Adger – and all were rescued by federal authorities.

Agents also recovered tools and supplies used in the training and keeping of dogs used for fighting. This included modified treadmills to hold dogs in place for dog fight conditioning, injectable veterinary steroids, suture materials and syringes, skin staplers, a homemade breeding stand used to immobilize female dogs who are too aggressive to mate naturally and a break stick device used to break the bite hold of a dog during specified intervals in a dog fight.

The defendant was further found to possess two pistols and a semi-automatic shotgun known colloquially as a “Street Sweeper.” The latter is considered as not just a firearm but a “destructive device” under federal law.

The dogs were rescued and cared for by a program administered by the U.S. Marshals Service. Following a separate, successful civil forfeiture action brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama, the dogs did not have to be returned to the defendant, but could instead be rehabilitated and evaluated for possible adoption.

If convicted, Adams faces penalties up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each firearms charge and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count of animal fighting charges. Under federal law, it is illegal to fight animals and to possess, train, transport, deliver, receive, buy or sell animals intended for use in an animal fighting venture.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) and U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona of the Northern District of Alabama made the announcement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, FBI and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are investigating the case.