Many of the dogs were scarred, injured or emaciated. The dog fighting ring has allegedly been in effect since 2009.
"The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is," U.S. Attorney for the Middle District Alabama George Beck said in a statement. "These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed 'fun' of watching and gambling on a dog fight."
The suspects are from Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Texas, and face multiple charges including conspiring to promote and sponsor dog fights and arranging for dogs to be at the fights. Most of the defendants were also charged with illegal gambling.
The practice of dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the individuals involved face up to five years in prison for each charge they face. The defendants will be arraigned on Wednesday.
Various organizations are now caring for the pit bulls at undisclosed locations, and the animals must now be kept as evidence during the case’s preliminary actions, according to officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States.
"They are finally getting a loving hand from responders who care for these dogs, but sadly there are many other dogs out there going through this type of abuse," stated ASPCA vice president Tim Rickey on Monday.
The ultimate goal of the ASPCA and the Humane Society is to find new, caring homes for the pit bulls.