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Man named ‘Snakes’ charged for dog fighting ring

Police car is photographed in Norfolk, Va., (Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS)
December 13, 2023

The Department of Justice has charged two men in the last week for allegedly operating a dog fighting ring and live-streaming dog fights across multiple states.

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Tommy J. “Snakes” Watson and Johnnie Lee Nelson Jr., both New Jersey residents, were charged with conspiring with other individuals to “fight, train, transport and possess pit bull-type dogs in dog fighting ventures from August 2017 through March 2019, in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

The Justice Department added, “Watson and others conducted a dog fighting operation known as ‘From Da Bottom Kennels’ and fought pit bull-type dogs in dog fights, housed and trained dogs for dog fighting and acquired, without veterinarian assistance or scrutiny, medical equipment including skin staplers to treat dogs injured during fights.”

According to the Justice Department, Watson and other individuals associated with the dogfighting operation used the “DMV Board” to release live-streamed videos of dog fights, dog fighting training, and the killing of dogs that underperformed in dog fights. The Justice Department noted that one of the methods used to kill the underperforming dogs was “hanging.”

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“Watson fought two dogs, including one named “Bunz,” in a December 2018 dog fight at a location on Center Road in Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey,” the Justice Department wrote. “Watson also trained and transported a third dog, named “Rambo,” for a dog fight event at the same location on March 23, 2019, which law enforcement disrupted.”

The Justice Department added that two additional dogs were found by law enforcement inside a car at the Center Road location and that Nelson allegedly trained “Rambo” for a dog fight event at the Center Road location on March 23, 2019.

The Justice Department also charged Watson for unlawfully possessing ammunition at the dog fighting event in 2019. reported that prosecutors have claimed that Watson and Nelson “sought to enrich themselves by placing wagers on dog fights, taking steps to collect bets, collecting bets, and distributing proceeds.”

If Watson and Nelson are convicted on the charges listed by the Justice Department, both New Jersey residents could face a $250,000 fine for each animal fighting charge, as well as up to five years in prison. Watson also could receive a $250,00 fine and up to a 10-year prison sentence for his ammunition charge.