By Agence France-Presse
Bulgarian police arrested 58 persons and confiscated nine dogs during a raid on an illegal dogfighting ring near Sofia, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
The alleged ring was broken up on Sunday morning when police squads found several vehicles parked outside a deserted building on the banks of the Iskar reservoir.
Inside they found two wooden dog fighting arenas.
“As a result of the immediate police action taken at and around the site, 58 persons were detained. In the cars, police found nine pit bulls which were confiscated,” a statement said.
The operation came as a fight was about to occur.
Bulgarian law provides for jail terms of up to five years and fines from 1,000 to 10,000 leva (500 to 5,000 euros, $580 to 5,800), for organizing or participating in dogfights and also for raising, training and supplying canines for illegal fights.
“This activity, which has been a punishable offense since 2011, remains difficult to prove in courts as the (dogfighting) community is extremely close,” Yavor Gechev, an expert from the Four Paws international animal rights charity told AFP.
A BBC undercover investigation in February exposed a 37-year-old Bulgarian man as the organizer of an international ring supplying dogs for fighting, suggesting that Eastern Europe had become a center of the dogfighting business in recent years.