Local News

May 5, 2010 6:29 PM by Ariel Wesler

Large cockfighting operation busted

Authorities raided a large cockfighting operation near Nipomo Tuesday afternoon. It happened in the 1100-block of Grace Lane. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Deputies and agents from the U.S. Humane Society responded to the incident.

Authorities busted a major cockfighting and breeding operation involving more than 600 birds. They said it goes back to at least 2007.

Eric Sakach, Senior Law Enforcement Specialist for the U.S. Humane Society, said, "We have found keep stalls, work benches, boxing gloves, used for training the birds to be better fighters."

Agents from the U.S. Humane Society and deputies from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department discovered the operation at a residence in Nipomo.

They took pictures and identified all birds on the property. Several will be removed as evidence and the rest were impounded. Sakach said, "A deputy can come out here at any time, look at the map, look at the photograph and say, yeah, it's the same bird. They're not tampering with it."

Three people have been detained in connection with the crime. A majority of the birds are roosters. The combs on their head and waddles below their neck have been removed to lower their weight and get rid of easy targets for the competition.

Sakach said, "It's not unusual for a bird to receive a number of puncture wounds to the chest and the lungs. Frequently, the lungs will start to fill up with blood and the blood will rush up the windpipe."

A vicious sport centuries old with crude consequences. Sakach said, "It's just a shame that some people persist in using them for really no other reason than to slash each other to death." Cockfighting is a felony in 39 states, but in California it's only a misdemeanor. The U.S. Humane Society said that's why many people move here to start major operations.

The District Attorney's office does have the option of charging the suspects with a misdemeanor for every bird linked to the cockfighting operation.

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