A joint investigation by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of the Inspector General (USDA), culminated in an early morning raid Saturday, May 3, on seven locations in Virginia and Kentucky. The two-year investigation began as an inquiry into an illegal moonshine operation, including the manufacture and distribution of untaxed liquor, but led to evidence of illegal cockfighting and animal cruelty, as well as illegal drugs, gambling and weapons.
Virginia ABC special agents and USDA agents, with assistance from the Virginia State Police and Wise County Sheriff’s Office, executed search and arrest warrants at locations in McDowell, Ky., and Pound, Va. The dual-state raid resulted in 54 charges, including 30 felony charges, 19 state misdemeanor charges and five federal charges. Additional arrests and charges are expected pending further investigation.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was called in to assist with the rescue of hundreds of fighting birds from two Virginia properties. “The ASPCA worked diligently at the scene and handled the care and safety of the animals with remarkable expertise,” said ABC Special Agent in Charge Kyle Blanks, who oversaw the operation.
Virginia ABC and USDA agents worked on locations until late Saturday evening and were assisted by 10 other state and federal agencies including the Virginia State Police, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, ASPCA, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Virginia Office of the Attorney General, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Although the emphasis of this case was illegal liquor, once the illegal cockfighting was discovered we immediately requested the aid of the experts at the USDA and the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force to handle those aspects of the case. This has been a joint investigation since those relationships were established,” said ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement Director Shawn Walker. “We also thank the 10 other state and federal agencies for their participation in this case. We couldn’t have done it without them,” he added.
Arrests in Pound, Va., include:
Arrests in McDowell, Ky., include:
The defendants from Virginia and Kentucky who were charged with felony federal charges were incarcerated after their arrests. The Robinsons appeared in federal district court in Abingdon, Va., and were released on bond. The Stumbos appeared in federal district court in Pikeville, Ky., on May 5, were released on bond and directed to appear in federal district court in Abingdon on Tuesday, May 6. The Meades from Virginia were arrested and processed by the Wise County Sheriff’s Office magistrate. All posted bond and were released. These are only charges and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing $1.7 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 347 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. Now in its 80th year, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Virginia ABC Agents Bust Moonshine and Cockfighting Ring; Multiple Charges Filed in Virginia and Kentucky