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Men accused of dogfighting to appear in court at later date

LAWRENCEVILLE - Preliminary hearings for four men charged with criminal attempt to commit dogfighting have been reset for a date not yet determined, court officials said Friday.

Mauricio Montoya, 28, Efren Reyes, 33, Jose Hernandez-Chable, 37, and Luis Reyes Esquival, 30, were expected to make their first appearances Friday but will appear in court sometime in the future for a judge to determine whether the case will go to trial.

All four men were arrested Sept. 7 at 3362 Southampton Way near Snellville after the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department found 10 scarred dogs that appeared to be used for fighting at the home.

"Ten dogs, including three puppies, and 14 chickens were seized from the home ... ," said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais at the time the men were taken into custody. Bourbonnais said dogfighting books and drugs were also found in the home.

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

"Dogs were found in cages and chained in the backyard," Bourbonnais said. "Some of them had scars and appeared to be malnourished." A shed at the rear of the property may have been where the alleged fighting was conducted, Bourbonnais added.

In addition to the dogfighting allegations, Reyes faces a possession of dangerous drugs charge.

An affidavit states investigators with the Sheriff's Department found Paxil hidden in a roll of film near a box containing some of Reyes' personal effects. The drugs were discovered in the shed in the backyard of the home on Southampton Way.

Reyes-Esquival also faces drug-related charges. According to an affidavit, hydrocodone was found in a prescription bottle in Reyes-Esquival's bedroom, allegedly in a bottle with a label containing the name of a person who did not live at the Southampton Way address.

All four men are also facing deportation to Mexico - the men's native country - following any possible trials in Gwinnett, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.

"All four aliens are from Mexico and are illegally in the United States," said ICE spokesman Richard Rocha. "Detainers were lodged on all, and ICE will assume custody once the local charges are adjudicated."