Police collar 7 in Tremont dogfighting ring

TREMONT - Seven people face charges in a vicious and inhumane dogfighting ring that went unnoticed on a Tremont block, police said Sunday.

Officers broke up the illegal pit bull fighting ring Saturday night at a 179th Street house. Authorities seized 16 dogs and took them to the Animal Care and Control Center; one had already died. Police said the pit bulls had face and body bite wounds.

Unsuspecting neighbors who live next door said they're shocked and glad that their children weren't hurt. "It's dangerous for the kids," said Olga Medina. "One of the dogs can be released from there and can bite the kids."

The seven suspects include three Bronx men ? 41-year-old Lauritz Acoy, 44-year-old Alexander Estephane and 33-year-old Eric Boyce. Four New Jersey men ? 34-year-old Israel Cuevas, 38-year-old Juan Toledo, 29-year-old Alterik Mason and 34-year-old Darnell Walker ? also face criminal charges.

They are charged with animal fighting, participating in an animal fight, promoting gambling and possession of an animal for fighting.

According to the ASPCA, anyone caught participating in a dogfight can face up to four years in prison and pay a fine of up to $25,000. Spectators are on the hook for up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

A single dogfight can generate at least $30,000, according to the Humane Society.

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