How convicted drug dealers are running businesses selling XL Bullys from behind bars

  • Drug kingpin Thomas Rayment was running his breeding firm from behind bars 

Gangsters and criminals are running lucrative businesses breeding dangerous American Bully XL dogs – with one allegedly overseeing his firm from behind bars.

Drug kingpin Thomas Rayment was serving a six-year jail sentence while still seemingly running Muscletone Bullys UK, selling bulked-up Bully puppies.

Rayment, who is a father, was 30 when he was jailed in February 2021 for running a ‘prolific’ a heroin and crack cocaine gang in his hometown of Warrington, Cheshire.

But days after being locked up and sent to Thorn Cross Prison, he appeared to post on social media advertising one of his prime studs for £4,000. 

He was freed from jail on May 26 of this year, to serve the remainder of his six-year term on licence – despite harassing his ex-girlfriend and sending a man to slash her tyres from inside jail, a crime he received a 54-week suspended sentence for. 

The news follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s pledge to ban American Bully XL dogs from Britain’s streets, as shocking footage revealed how rogue dog owners are using savage ‘bite training’ techniques to turn their animals into lethal weapons.

Drug gang boss Thomas Rayment was serving a six-year jail sentence while still seemingly running Muscletone Bullys UK, selling bulked-up Bully puppies.

Rayment (pictured) was 30 when he was jailed in February 2021 for running a ‘prolific’ a heroin and crack cocaine gang in his hometown of Warrington, Cheshire

Muscletone Bullys UK advertised a number of extreme Bully breeds on its website

Rayment’s breeding business was exposed by a BBC investigation, which claimed he was actively trying to promote his dogs from behind bars.

Since being freed from jail, MailOnline can reveal he has continued advertising his XL bullies, posting in July about one called ‘Nemesis’ and saying: ‘Open for stud – semen shipped worldwide’.

READ MORE: Killer dogs that mauled hero, 52, to death as he protected his elderly mother ‘had attacked another woman just weeks before’ as neighbours say horror was ‘an accident waiting to happen’

While serving a prison term, the drugs kingpin was frequently tagged in posts by other prominent figures in the American Bully network.

An undercover reporter claimed she was sent photos of two extreme American bullies – Brandon ‘Blockhead’ and Kleo – via Facebook while Rayment was in jail. The pair of dogs had recently had a litter of puppies.  

‘This boned-up Gorilla is no joke he’s extreme as they come,’ read the description of Brandon Blockhead on Rayment’s website. He has ‘one of the best headpieces we have ever seen all on a super short compact frame’, it added.

The tops of the dogs ears had been cut off in an illegal practice known as ‘cropping’ – which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. 

The BBC claimed Rayment organised for their reporter to meet his business Ryan Howard at a dog fertility clinic, who later tells the journalist ‘Tom’s not here because he’s in jail’.

Extreme dog breeding is big business. On the Muscletone Bullys UK website, pups have previously been on sale for tens of thousands of pounds. 

As well as advertising dogs bred with grotesquely exaggerated characteristics – such as excessive skin folds or large, muscular frames – the site also sells Bully ‘bodybuilder’ supplements to help bulk up dogs. 

In pictures on social media, some of the dogs ears appear to have been cut off in an illegal practice known as ‘cropping’ – which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years

Rayment (pictured) was freed from jail on May 26 of this year, to serve the remainder of his six-year term on licence

Ian Muttitt, a chief inspector with the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit, claims over the past five years organised crime gangs have become increasingly involved in the extreme dog breeding trade, with some using the trade to  launder money.

Also running a bully breeding programme is violent thug Armani Costello, who was last month jailed for domestic abuse. 

READ MORE: ‘I sell XL Bullys to drug dealers’: Shocking moment father-of-six admits breeding killer dogs to ‘put food on the table’ – as pressure grows to ban ‘mutant’ crossbreed

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Costello hurled a TV at her girlfriend while she was having a bath and offered her ‘dangerously out of control’ Bully XL up for breeding on Facebook, reported the Liverpool Echo.

The 20-year-old was sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders’ institute on August 27 after being convicted for the year-long campaign of abuse against her partner.

She previously bragged that her XL Bully had some ‘serious swimmers’ months after it was involved in a terrifying attack which against two other dogs. 

In a post on Facebook in July last year, Costello claimed her dog was ‘already proven’ as a breeding stud. ‘My boy’s open for stud,’ she wrote. 

‘He’s got some serious swimmers and he’s already proven. Lettin the first 3 lock-ins go for £500 or pup back deal to get him started again.’

The post also included a video from Instagram which appeared to show the dog’s semen under a microscope. Costello’s caption read: ‘Studding gorgeous boy out.

‘He’s has 236 million semen in one mill. He is a champagne merl, he carries chocolate and few other, message for more information.’

Also running a bully breeding programme is violent thug Armani Costello, who was last month jailed for domestic abuse
She boasted about her dog having ‘some serious swimmers’ in a post on Facebook
The XL Bully had been involved in an attack against two other dogs
In a post on Instagram (right) Costello also bragged about Bully’s sperm count
Thug Costello, 20, was sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders’ institute on August 27 after being convicted for the year-long campaign of abuse against her partner

It comes as other rogue pet owners are turning their XL Bully dogs into lethal weapons through brutal bite training – before sharing the footage on social media. 

Savage videos show how some reckless owners are lashing their dogs with whips or hitting them with sticks to enrage them into mauling their arms, which are protected by padded sleeves. 

READ MORE: XL bullies WILL be banned as attacks claim yet more victims: Rishi Sunak finally vows to crack down on the ‘mutant’ dogs – as man dies after being set upon by two of the animals, and horrific footage emerges of boy, 10, mauled as he plays outside his house

While in another shocking clip, a dog is let loose in a children’s play park and filmed dashing through a tunnel designed for toddlers before locking its huge jaws on its trainer’s arm. 

MailOnline last week revealed how some backyard breeders were using makeshift treadmills to build up their dog’s fitness in savage fight camps. Now fresh claims have emerged that some are even pumping their Bully XLs with steroids.

City parks, street markets and even basketball courts have become the training ground of choice for some young, inexperienced trainers – who broadcast their bite work sessions to thousands of fans on Instagram and TikTok

Others have constructed assault courses in rural areas using caravans, bouncy castles and metal fencing. Disturbing images have even shown how trainers are teaching their dogs to pounce at people through windows.

Meanwhile, backyard breeders have been feeding their dogs muscle-building drugs and supplements, or protein-rich food, to bulk out their bullies, in a grotesque social media trend to create huge, powerful monster pups.

Details of the training tactics – which are similar to the methods used by police forces to teach their attack dogs – came as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seeks to ban the breed of XL bullies following a string of deadly attacks. 

Some of the dogs are shown snarling and attacking their ‘trainers’ in shocking videos online
This video captured the moment two dogs attacked one of their trainers in a park in London
The animals were seen running through a tunnel in the park before then launching for the man

Announcing the move on Friday, the PM promised to bring in laws to outlaw the breeding, ownership and sale of the animals by the end of the year. 

READ MORE: Five holidaymakers are injured in ANOTHER savage dog attack at family caravan park with one man taken to hospital for urgent treatment

It came after out-of-control XL bullies killed 52-year-old Ian Price in an horrific attack in Stonnall, Staffordshire, on Thursday, and savaged two children in separate attacks in nearby Birmingham, including a 10-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl.

Scores of social media accounts appear to promote ‘bite training’ for Bully XL dogs, in a move that has been slammed by experts and other pet owners.

One video shows a dog charging towards a man in a protective suit as a small dummy grenade detonates inside a room. In another clip, a group of men wearing hoodies and balaclavas are teaching one of the animals to sink its teeth into their arms inside their home.

One of the Bully XL trainers sharing such content is p.securityk9s. In a video on TikTok, one snarling dog is filmed attached to a metal railing, barking, before then launching and biting a person on the arm. ‘BIG M will put you in your place real quick,’ the account boasts in a post. 

Another account, with the username BiteWorkBully, filmed videos of his dogs biting in a man wearing in a playground in central London. He said: ‘We’re working on family protection dogs! None of my XL bullies bite children! I also guarantee that if an assailant attacks you or your family with one of my dogs, and they leave untouched I’ll personally give your money back.’

In one clip, a dog appears to be undergoing bite training inside a property
Other images released on TikTok show other ‘trainers’ allowed dogs to chomp down on their legs, which are covered by protective clothing
While one clip appears to show a dog strapped into a treadmill as it bites down on a man’s arm

While on another TikTok account, a man is filmed repeatedly slapping his dog in the face, apparently attempting to provoke it into attacking – all while a young girl plays nearby. 

Some of the activities could be considered legitimate canine control work for dog competitions or Schutzhund – a dog sport that tests an animal’s tracking, obedience, and protection skills. 

But animal experts have lashed out over some of the footage. Rob Alleyne, who is an expert dog behaviourist with 40 years’ experience, feared many XL Bully dogs were being ‘trained as weapons’, with trainers using dog sports and protection as a front. 

He told The Times: ‘There are two factions. Responsible owners who like big dogs and will get licences and will go to dog training classes — and the other group who want it as a status symbol and see ownership as a way to hold off the police who try and break in, or to teach other criminals not to mess with them.’

Mr Alleyne claimed he was aware of many cases where dogs were given steroids to ‘muscle them up’ and ‘make them more intimidating’. 

‘What these people are looking for is a dog you won’t mess with. They want it to look disproportionate, they want it to look huge,’ he said. ‘One man I spoke to was feeding his dog blood from his local butcher because he believed that would give it a taste for blood.’ 

Some dog owners use steroids and protein-rich foods to help bulk out their bullies to make them look as muscular as possible
Mohammed Sami Raza was left yelling for help as the dog clamped its jaws around his forearm, eventually leaving him with injuries to his arms, legs and neck
The boy at Walsall Manor Hospital, where he is still undergoing treatment for his injuries after the unprompted attack on Wednesday

Speaking on Friday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was working urgently on banning the Bully XL dogs and clamping down on reckless owners.

In a video statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, the PM said: ‘The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children.

READ MORE: Breeder of ‘Killer Kimbo’ who half of all Britain’s XL Bully dogs can be traced back to claims they only become dangerous when people inject them with steroids

‘I share the nation’s horror at the recent videos we’ve all seen. Yesterday we saw another suspected XL bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality.

‘It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.

‘While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.’

News of the ban prompted a furious response from XL Bully lovers, who said training by irresponsible owners should not lead to the entire breed being outlawed, with more than 513,000 signing a petition urging the Government not to ban the dogs.

Ashley Irvin, 32, owns seven Bully XLs including one rescued from a dog fighting ring in Romania, said outlawing the breed wouldn’t stop the bloodshed. 

Father-of-one Ashley, who runs a plastering and decorating business in Hull alongside his East Hullbullyz breeding operation, blamed ‘irresponsible backstreet breeders’ for the recent attacks – as he branded them ‘evil’.

Defending the animals, he insisted it was not the dog’s fault for the number of fatal attacks but more the ‘irresponsible’ owners and breeders. 

American Bully XL breeder Ashley Irvin was furious at news Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was seeking the ban the ‘dangerous’ dogs by the end of the year

Ashley, 32, owns seven Bully XLs including one rescued from a dog fighting ring in Romania

He claims his pets have never attacked anyone and blamed bad owners for the fatal attacks

‘The recent attacks are all because of these idiot kids who let their dogs hang off trees for bite training,’ fumed Ashley, who said he doesn’t breed his animals for the cash but more for ‘the love’ of the breed. 

‘You shouldn’t be teaching the dogs this, It’s wrong. But I see it all the time. It really p***es me off. It gives the dogs such a bad name. 

‘These people are evil. They should all be prosecuted. They’re training these dogs to kill. There needs to be some justice on that. It’s disgusting. 

READ MORE: ‘My XL Bully is so soft she was attacked by a tiny Jack Russell – and she cuddles up with me every day… it’s irresponsible owners who are the problem’

‘It’s not the dog’s fault. It’s the owners that are not taking the responsibility. A gun by itself isn’t dangerous, it’s the person who pulls the trigger whose dangerous.’

Ashley, who has grown up with bulldogs, says he avoid walking his animals in the streets, taking them to a private field instead. 

He claimed he only sells his puppies to people he knows as a way of vetting those seeking to own one of the breed. 

‘I don’t want to put them in the wrong hands,’ he said. ‘I have one who was two. He was brought up the wrong way. I rescued him from Romania. I have to keep him muzzled. That’s called being a responsible owner.’

Ashley said an official system to licence the dogs would be more effective than an outright ban. 

He added he was now concerned about the impact of the potential change in the law on the XL Bully and what that would mean for his ‘loyal and loving’ pets. 

‘My dogs are lovely. We have a different bully going in bed with my eight-year-old son every single night. He loves it. It’s like emotional support for him. He loves the Bullys. He can just feel the love,’ he said. 

Kaylee Hankins, 32, claimed her 16-month-old Bully Isla was loved by locals in Cotswolds market town Minchinhampton.

Kaylee Hankins, 32, claimed her 16-month-old Bully Isla was a loving and gentle XL Bully
She said the family pet is adored by her son Harley, seven, who cuddles up with it on the sofa

And she said the family pet is adored by sons Harley, seven, and Leo, 14, who cuddle up with her on the sofa every morning. 

Describing Isla as an ‘amazingly loyal family companion’, she told how the animal was pounced on by an off-lead Jack Russell a few months ago. 

The tiny terrier hit into the XL Bully at full speed, causing her to tumble to the ground. She cowered down petrified as it barked, and didn’t retaliate.

Beauty therapist Kaylee hit out at irresponsible owners, who ‘let an amazing breed down’ by training them to be aggressive or failing to train them at all.

The government announced last week it would be taking steps to ban American XL bullys.

Kaylee said said: ‘I’ve heard of people using growth hormones to get them bigger, cross-breeding them with bigger breeds and training them to be aggressive because they want the image of a big scary dog.

‘But they are not scary. They get into the wrong hands; I feel like some owners have let an amazing breed down.

‘It’s awful for the victims that suffered in the attacks of XL bullys, but again, these dogs have been improperly trained by careless owners.’

Kaylee insisted that Isla was so gentle the dog didn’t retaliate when it was attacked by a tiny Jack Russell
Kaylee’s other son, Leo, 14, is pictured cuddling up to the XL Bully
Kaylee was speaking out after Prime Minster Rishi Sunak announced he was going to ban the breed of dogs following a string of fatal attacks

Kaylee said Isla was ‘very easy to train’ and hasn’t ever shown a hint of aggression.

She said: ‘Harley was home all the time when we got Isla as a puppy. They are best friends now.

‘As soon as he comes down in the morning, they cuddle up on the sofa together – they are pretty inseparable.

‘She comes on the school run every day and is greeted by all sorts of dogs and people of all ages.

‘Everyone around here adores her – she’s like the famous dog of Minchinhampton. If I’ve not got her with me, they all ask where she is.

‘We’ve even had people stop their cars and jump out to see her, people we don’t know.

‘The postman knocks at the door just to say hello to her, even if he doesn’t have any post for us. Isla loves him.

‘Leo often takes Isla out on his own and looks after her all day – he’s good as gold with her.’

Kaylee doesn’t support the government’s proposed ban on XL bully dogs – but says she would support a licencing system.

Kaylee doesn’t support the government’s proposed ban on XL bully dogs – but says she would support a licencing system. She said: ‘I don’t believe banning the breed will work, people will work around the law.

‘I’d be happy to get her assessed and get a licence.

‘I think it’s cruel to class my dog as a dangerous dog when she’s not a dangerous dog.

‘You would be putting my dog into the same category as killer dogs – when she’s far from it. She is an amazingly loyal family companion.

‘If they ban her, she’ll have to wear a muzzle out in public and it will give the impression she’s a dangerous dog when she’s not.’

Supporters of the ban say it will be hard to use to clamp down on criminals and rogue breeders.  

Doug Smith, a spokesperson for campaign group BullyWatch UK – which has been documenting reported attacks by the breed – feared Mr Sunak’s move won’t stop the flow of deadly animals from reaching Britain’s streets.

Mr Smith said many if the big firms have already bought ‘high-grade equipment’ to for dog breeding and spent ‘significant amounts of cash on kennels’.

‘They have all that infrastructure in place for the mass breeding of dogs,’ warned Mr Smith.

Mr Sunak said Bully XLs would be banned following a ‘pattern of behaviour [that] cannot go on’
Rishi Sunak’s announcement came after a man was mauled to death by two dogs in Stonnall, Staffordshire on Thursday
American XL Bully dogs will be banned in the UK by the end of the year (file picture)

‘The ban is definitely the right step forward. But we have to crack down hard on these individuals breeding these dogs. That’s the only way to really stop this. ‘

Mr Smith continued: ‘The ban will make a massive difference in reducing backyard breeders of the Bully XLs but I think there will be some already heavily involved in breeding who will to tinker along on the side lines.

‘Backyard breeding in this country is a disgrace and these breeders need to be wiped out. This is why we’re in this mess.’

Stan Rawlinson, who has more than 20 years of experience working with aggressive animals, and was called as an expert witness for the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, said the PM’s ban would ‘do nothing’.

Mr Rawlinson, who is a dog behaviourist, claimed it would be too tricky to assess whether a dog is a true XL Bully as the animals are a ‘mongrel breed’.

Instead, he claimed Britain should be looking at more stringent licensing rules and tightening up regulations and background checks on those seeking to own the dogs – and that all Bully XLs must be neutered.

‘What we really need to do is go for the serpent’s head,’ he told MailOnline. ‘We need to keep records.

‘Anyone wanting to own one of these dogs has got to have a licence, proof of ID, no criminal convictions, proof of being mentally and physically capable of looking after one of these animals. And we there should be an insurance contract for the dog with liability of half a million pounds.

‘Banning the dog will not have the expected effect… It’s impossible to stop drug dealers breeding these dogs.’

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