Authorities: Nationwide sweep busts Asbury Park dog-fighting ring

Dozens of dogs have been rescued from locations across the country, including in New Jersey, during a nationwide dog-fighting ring crackdown.

Authorities say 17 dogs, mostly pit bulls, were rescued from a home on New Street in Asbury Park during a raid Wednesday morning.

Animal rescue volunteers assisted federal, state and local authorities with removing the dogs. The animals will be taken for evaluations and treatment.

Mario Atkinson, 40, was arrested during the raid. He allegedly had a dog treadmill used to strengthen fighting dogs inside his home, as well as boxes of syringes and medical equipment used to treat dogs that were hurt.

Atkinson had been convicted of animal cruelty in the past in relation to a case in Neptune.

In addition to Atkinson, three men from Vineland were arrested, as well as one person from Westville and one person from Millville. Three other people were arrested in other states.

The dog-fighting ring allegedly operated in New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois and New Mexico.

Federal prosecutors say that the charges include conspiracy and alleged criminal acts related to transporting, delivering, buying, selling, receiving and possessing pit bull-type dogs for dog-fighting ventures. The people arrested could face five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if they are convicted.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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