Brazil police bust 'macabre' dog-fighting ring in Sao Paulo

Brazilian authorities say dozens of people were arrested in the country's biggest city for alleged ties to an international dog-fighting ring

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Dozens of people were arrested in Brazil's biggest city for alleged ties to an international dog-fighting ring, after a raid on a dog fight that included a “macabre ritual” of serving barbecued dog meat to spectators, authorities said Monday.

Nineteen pit bulls were rescued from the property on the outskirts of Sao Paulo's metropolitan area. Police said it was part of an international dog-fighting circuit held last year in the Dominican Republic.

An American man from California was acting as referee of the dog fight when police raided the property Saturday night and a Mexican man and Peruvian man were also present, police officials said at a news conference.

People around the world placed online bets on the fights, police said. Photos and video footage provided by police showed malnourished animals with bloody gouges on their faces. One of the dogs, laid out on an ironing board, appeared unable to lift itself.

The investigation started with police targeting a breeder and a trainer in the state of Parana, authorities said. Officers followed the two suspects to Sao Paulo and requested support from the state police before making arrests.

Almost all the suspects posted bail, and the foreigners are prohibited from leaving Brazil, the local media site G1 said. A judge blocked release of the man accused of organizing the event.