ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) - Startling new information tonight in the ongoing investigation of the man suspected of running a dog fighting operation out of his Alexandria home.
9 News has learned that the alleged ringleader is 36 year-old Eduardo Valdez. Andrea McCarren, who broke the story yesterday, found extensive criminal records for Eduardo Valdez, who also goes by the name Alex Gomes.
One day after Fairfax County Police seized eight pit bulls from a suspected dog fighting operation in Alexandria, disturbing information has emerged about the man who lived at 4511 Tipton Lane.
Since 2000, Valdez has faced charges in several jurisdictions of Virginia, Maryland and the District--including first degree murder, reckless endangerment, DWI, along with weapons and drug charges."
"This dog looks like he's been fought repeatedly. He's got scars on his face. You can see white marks in the fur. That's where he's been bitten in the past, " said John Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States when we showed him our videotape of the seized dogs.
Goodwin said, "What we're looking at there is a treadmill that's commonly designed to condition dogs to fight. They run these on them to build their stamina up. And I recognize that make and model as having been produced by a company in West Virginia that's commonly associated with dog fighting," he said. "The fact that this individual had that type of treadmill is a red flag."
Police confiscated treadmills, heavy chains and a device known for its brutality, commonly referred to as a rape stand.
Goodwin said, "Sometimes, the female doesn't want to breed. Sometimes, she would rather fight. So she will be strapped down to that contraption, so that she's forcibly bred."
Often operating in the shadows, even as suspected, in quiet residential neighborhoods like this one in Alexandria, dogs fight to the death or until they're so injured, they can't continue.
Goodwin said, "If a dog were to quit and try to jump out of the pit, that's a death sentence. They'll shoot and kill that dog. This is a violent, bloody sub-culture."
In Virginia, it is a felony to possess to a dog for the purposes of fighting. Right now, Emilio Valdez faces just one count of being an unfit animal owner. But if he's charged and convicted of dog fighting, he could face years in prison. ***((1st degree murder charges!!!)