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305 dogs rescued and 20 people arrested in raids of South Carolina dogfighting kennels, federal prosecutors say

More than 20 people were arrested and more than 300 dogs were rescued as authorities raided dogfighting kennels in South Carolina, federal prosecutors said Monday. Authorities said it's believed to be the largest takedown of a dogfighting operation in the state's history. 

The sting started when state and federal agents interrupted a dogfight in Richland County on Saturday, U.S. Attorney Adair Boroughs said in a statement.

That led agents to serve 23 warrants on Sunday that were known to be places where dogs fight or are trained to fight in Clarendon, Lee, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and York counties, investigators said.

More than 20 people were arrested on state charges of animal cruelty and dogfighting, authorities said. Investigators also seized about 30 guns and $40,000 in cash, prosecutors said.

Officials said 305 dogs were rescued, with about 275 of them believed to be part of the dogfighting ring. The Humane Society of the United States and Bark Nation is helping take care of the dogs.

The arrests over the weekend are the first steps in a broader investigation that could include federal charges, Boroughs said. 

"To force dogs to fight, often to the death, for the enjoyment of others is not only a federal crime, it is also cruel, sadistic, and can create a haven for other illicit activities involving drugs and firearms," Boroughs said.

According to the statement, fighting dogs or possessing, training, selling, buying, delivering, receiving or transporting dogs intended for dogfights is a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison. 

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