Warrants were served this week across the area after a Tallapoosa County Grand Jury delivered indictments stemming from the Nov. 19, 2013, raid on Delcarlos Holley’s home, the home of Erick Jerrod Calhoun at 174 Thomas Road and the home of Roderick Sweetwyne at 148 Thomas Road, all in New Site, Alabama.
The New Site Police Department and Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department arrested four men and one woman who were indicted last month on more than 160 counts of dog fighting and aggravated animal cruelty.
McKelvey said the operation began in 2012 when his department served a search warrant on the home of Delcarlos Holley, 42, of 12100 Highway 22 East. Cocaine, marijuana and a large amount of currency were seized in that operation and 25 dogs were rescued, according to New Site Police Chief John McKelvey.
He was only charged for the drugs at that time, McKelvey said, and “that started the investigation.”
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The charges were brought as the culmination of that two-year investigation, which ultimately led to the rescue of 55 dogs from three homes on Thomas Road and Highway 22 East in New Site, according to Chief McKelvey. Another woman is still being sought by law enforcement.
“It feels good to be through with this part of (the investigation), but this isn’t the end of it,” McKelvey said. “It was just despicable, the way these dogs were kept. There’s no sense in it.”
He said he was disgusted to see animals so abused, for no reason other than “pure entertainment and gambling.”
Decarlos Holley was arrested Thursday on 68 grand jury indictments, 34 for dog-fighting and 34 for aggravated cruelty to animals. He pleaded guilty on the 2012 drug charges and had his probation revoked on those convictions.
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Calhoun, 28, faces 18 counts of dog-fighting and 18 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Sweetwyne, 42, faces four counts of dog-fighting and four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Calhoun’s brother, 27-year-old Justin Noble Calhoun of Collins Street in Eclectic, faces 18 counts of dog-fighting and 18 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Sweetwyne faces four counts of dog-fighting and four counts of aggravated animal cruelty. He also faces charges for possession of a controlled substance — crack cocaine — and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also had his probation revoked.
Jennifer Kelley was arrested on four counts of dog-fighting and four counts of aggravated animal cruelty and had her probation on a crack cocaine charge revoked.
Another woman, Sonja Benson, has not been arrested yet, McKelvey said, but faces 18 counts of dog-fighting and 18 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
All suspects are being held in the Tallapoosa County Jail. Justin and Erick Calhoun face bonds of $225,000. Holley, Kelly and Sweetwyne saw their probations revoked on previous drug-related convictions.
A variety of agencies joined the probe, including the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Alexander City Police Department, ABC Board, Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force, agents from the Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Humane Society (HSUS), Montgomery Humane Society and Lake Martin Area Humane Society.
Up to a $5,000 reward is offered by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Callers’ identities are protected.