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Dogfighting bust
Police arrest 4 men at Snellville home, seize 10 dogs

SNELLVILLE - Tucked in the back of a Snellville subdivision is a home with baby blue siding and an ample yard. And neighbors have conflicting views about the people who live there.

Some neighbors who live close to the 3362 Southampton Way home inside the Centerville North subdivision said they suspected the four men arrested at the house Friday morning were involved in dogfighting.

Efren Reyes, 33, Mauricio Montoya, 27, Jose Hernandez-Chable, 37, and Luis Reyes Esquival, 30, were taken into custody by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department shortly after 1 a.m. and charged with criminal attempt to commit dogfighting.

"Ten dogs, including three puppies, and 14 chickens were seized from the home this morning," said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais. She said dogfighting books and drugs were also found in the home.

Bourbonnais said an investigation to stop dogfighting in Gwinnett led authorities to the Snellville home. The dogfighting task force, a group made up of Gwinnett sheriff's, police and animal control officers, led the investigation, Bourbonnais said.

"Dogs were found in cages and chained in the backyard," Bourbonnais said. "Some of them had scars and appeared to be malnourished."

Bourbonnais said one of the puppies had some scaring on its face and an injured eye - signs the dog could have been involved in fights. Bourbonnais said all the dogs appeared to be pit bulls or pit bull-mixed breeds.

"There's a shed or out building where they may have been conducting the dogfighting," Bourbonnais said.

Whether or not the chickens were involved in fighting, would not be known until they were examined by a veterinarian, Bourbonnais said.

Two teens who live two houses down from the suspected home said the men gave them a pit bull puppy about a week ago.

"She's about 9 months," said 17-year-old Erika Lee. "She's really sweet."

Lee and her 19-year-old boyfriend David Stone said they often heard barking coming from their neighbor's yard but never heard that they were fighting the dogs.

"The cops were called a few times because of the noise," Stone said.

Lee said the red nosed pit bull puppy, Pinky, escaped from her backyard Friday morning. Sheriff's authorities confirmed Lee's puppy had wandered over to the home and they were holding the puppy, which they suspected once belonged to the four suspects.

Andy Eaton, 21, said he lives in the neighborhood as well and said the men didn't have the best reputation in the subdivision.

"Someone told me they were the ones to buy drugs from," Eaton said of the men.

Owning a pit bull of his own, he said he has a love for the dogs as pets.

"I love pit bulls. I was born and raised with them," Eaton said. "They're great dogs."

Bourbonnais said the investigation will continue. She said authorities continued to search the yard for remains of dogs who may have been buried on the property to dispose of the dogs who may have died due to fighting.

According to Bourbonnais, other charges could be filed against the four and more arrests could be made.

The $10,000 reward Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway said he would be offering from his own pocket for information leading to the arrest and conviction of dogfighting, Bourbonnais said, could be given in relation to Friday's findings. Conway announced this effort in July.

"The reward money may still come into play and this will come out of his (Conway's) personal funds if it does come into play," Bourbonnais said.