(CNN) -- An investigation into dogfighting across five states has resulted in federal charges against 19 people, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
More than 350 dogs were seized after an investigation into dogfighting across five states.
Indictments unsealed in Missouri, Illinois and Texas detailed gambling rings in which owners bred and trained dogs to fight, then killed them if the animals were badly wounded or failed to perform as desired, according to separate Justice Department statements issued in Missouri and Illinois.
Some of the suspects allegedly served as referees for fights, while others were accused of being "sponge-men" who wiped off blood and cooled down dogs during matches, one of the statements said.
More than 350 dogs, primarily pit bull terriers, were seized in a series of coordinated raids on various dogfighting venues, it said.
The statement named seven suspects from Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa who will face a variety of charges including conspiracy, illegal gambling and bookmaking. Each of the five counts in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment without parole and a maximum fine of $250,000, the statement said.
"The indictment alleges that the defendants denied the dogs adequate and humane medical treatment of wounds and injuries suffered as a result of the dogfights," the statement said. "The defendants routinely and inhumanely destroyed dogs that became severely injured as a result of a fight, the indictment says, by shooting the dogs in the head, then throwing the carcasses into the river or burning them in a barrel."
According to the statement, one of the accused works for a state school for the handicapped, another is a registered nurse at a Missouri community hospital and a third works for a school district.
Another Justice Department statement identified five East St. Louis, Illinois, residents who were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit unlawful activities of dogfighting.
What these people have done makes my blood boil. While I appreciate the work of law enforcement who has worked so hard to take these organizations down, I feel these people don't deserve to be on this planet. It takes a seriously sick individual to conduct this type of "business". Before I get judged, how would you like to be a gladiator for your own life and then lose it because you aren't strong enough? And just because this has gone on for centuries doesn't make it right and doesn't mean that it shouldn't be brought to an end. Thank goodness George W. had the strength to sign a bill that made the laws harder on these individuals.