Police raided a dog fight Saturday night that included a macabre ritual of serving barbecued dog meat to spectators, Brazilian authorities said Monday. Nineteen pit bulls were rescued from the property in Sao Paulo.
Police said the dog fight was part of an international dog-fighting circuit held last year in the Dominican Republic.
People around the world placed online bets on the fights, police said. Photos and video footage provided by police showed malnourished animals with bloody holes and cuts on their faces. One of the dogs, laid out on an ironing board, appeared unable to lift itself.
Officers arrested dozens of people for alleged ties to an online international dog-fighting organization. An American man from California was acting as referee of the dog fight when police raided the property, and a Mexican man and Peruvian man were also present, police officials said at a news conference.
The investigation started with police targeting a breeder and a trainer in the state of Parana. Officers followed the two suspects to Sao Paulo and requested support from the state police before making arrests.
Almost all the suspects posted bail. The foreigners are prohibited from leaving Brazil, the local media site G1 said. A judge blocked the release of the man accused of organizing the event.