ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday it has uncovered an underground dog trafficking ring.
Deputies said the investigation began when a French bulldog named Bugsy was ripped from his owner at gunpoint off Hiawassee Road in March.
Owner Johnny Matos said he was stunned someone would point a gun at him to steal his dog.
“You’re thinking this can’t be happening? Not here in Florida,” he said.
Two days after Bugsy was taken, Det. Mike Peers began receiving tips in the case.
One tip came in that Ronnie Baker and Quantavious Williams were suspected of stealing dogs on the west side of Florida.
“These suspects broke into high-end pet stores to essentially steal dogs, breed them and make money,” Peers said.
Investigators believe the dogs were taken to the home “Dogman” Bobby Rivera, who cut out the dogs’ microchips and replaced them with blank ones.
Deputies found an “operating room” in the home, as well as several dogs stuffed into a single cage.
While continuing to investigate Williams and Baker, deputies were able to track down Bugsy.
Matos was overwhelmed with emotion when he found out Bugsy was back.
“Don’t make me cry on camera, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s great to have him home.”
OCSO has filed charges with the State Attorney’s Office on Baker and Williams for robbery with a firearm, grand theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Both are currently in jail outside of Orange County for other crimes.
Rivera was arrested in August for one count of Aggravated Animal Cruelty for the harm he did to a stolen English bulldog brought to him by Ronnie Baker.