Crime & Courts

Pit bulls found chained, with broken teeth, scars from dogfights. Now, NC man is paying.

In the parlance of dogfighting, a “head dog” is one that attacks its opponent’s head.

A “keep” describes the weeks of brutal strength and conditioning training a dog endures before it enters the ring.

“Rubbing” is what dogfighters call the practice of putting a substance on a dog’s coat that can kill or disable an opponent.

This week, a judge gave Brexton Lloyd a descriptive term of his own. For the next year, the N.C. resident will be what’s known as a federal inmate.

Lloyd of Moore County was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in prison after he pleaded guilty to his role in a multistate dogfighting conspiracy.

“Dogfighting isn’t entertainment, it’s organized crime,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Martin of Greensboro after Lloyd’s punishment was handed down.

According to prosecutors, Lloyd, 54, trained, sold, bred and fought dogs in a shadowy ring stretching from the North Carolina Sandhills north to New Jersey and as far west as New Mexico.

In March 2017, federal agents raided Lloyd’s home in rural Eagle Springs, about 75 miles east of Charlotte. According to court documents, they found 13 dogs, most of them lugging oversized chains. Many bore scars and sores. Several had damaged or broken teeth. Nine were puppies. All the water in their bowls was frozen.

Lloyd, who lived on an unpaved, dead-end road, kept his pit bulls in pens or chained to trees, the ground or in one case, a car axle. He chose names like Stripe, Jeremiah, Humpback and Rupert, and kept detailed records of their pedigrees and fighting results, documents say.

The raid uncovered a harness, “spring poles” and other equipment used to improve a dog’s strength and endurance or to strengthen its jaws, documents say. Agents also found a cache of medical supplies, which dog fighters typically use to treat their animals’ injuries outside the scrutiny of a vet’s office.

Lloyd’s laptop and other devices contained numerous images of pit bulls mating. There were other photos of a dog chained to a treadmill, a pit bull with gaping wounds to its chest and shoulders, and a three-minute video of an actual fight inside a four-sided pit.

According to documents, federal investigators stumbled onto Lloyd while they were wiretapping a phone linked to a convicted New Jersey dog fighter named Anthony “Whiteboy” Gaines. Agents say they overheard conversations in which Lloyd took part or was frequently mentioned.

On Oct. 23, 2015, Gaines and Lloyd held a three-way call with Jason “Jay” Love, another purported New Jersey dogfighter in which they discussed an upcoming midnight dog fight Lloyd had arranged in an undisclosed spot.

“After the match it will be perfect,” Lloyd said, according to documents. “It will take me seven hours to get home, girlfriend go to work at six, she ain’t even got to see the dogs when I bring them back all banged up.”

In August 2015, Lloyd went online to find a fight, which under the rules matches dogs of the same gender and weight, documents say. He texted Love:

“...bud of mine to hunt a 36 f for 2-5K ... u kn of any?”

Translation: Lloyd’s friend wanted to arrange a fight between two 36-pound females for a wager of between $2,000 and $5,000, prosecutors say.

During their raid on Lloyd’s home, investigators seized all of his dogs. To date, more than 100 have been freed and medically treated under “Operation Grand Champion,” a multistate effort to combat dogfighting.

In June 2016, Gaines was among nine people from five states charged with dogfighting crimes. Sixty-six dogs were freed.

The Justice Department says federal agents found dog blood strewn throughout the basement of one of the defendant’s New Jersey homes. Another defendant admitted to the court that his dog had died in his car on the drive home after a fight.

In March, Gaines was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS