Authorities Seize 7,000 Birds in Largest Cockfighting Raid in US History

It was an operation shocking in size and appalling in scope. Authorities in Val Verde, Ca., just took down what they claim to be the biggest cockfighting ring ever busted in the United States.

Concerned neighbors suspected questionable activity, as the 80-acre property had previously been raided for cockfighting in 2007. They reported their suspicions to the Humane Society of the United States, which contacted local police. In mid-May, officers and animal experts arrived at the secluded compound in northeast Los Angeles County.

Representatives of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, the HSUS and the Pasadena Humane Society participated in the raid.

Officials found ample evidence of cockfighting activity. First and foremost, there were an astounding 7,000 birds on site. Many of them bore injuries consistent with cockfighting activity, such as bloody slashes. Authorities also found torn and bloody rooster carcasses — presumably, bodies belonging to the losers of the fights.

Several of the seized gamecocks had respiratory infections, which veterinarians will try to identify. In addition to the roosters and hens, police confiscated 13 dogs, horses, a cat, a goat and a cow. They detained 10 individuals found on site, but no arrests have yet been made. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are determining exactly which crimes to charge suspects with.

Law enforcement officials seized portable fighting rings — as well as syringes and steroids, which are used to amp up the birds’ aggression and fighting ability. They also found many gaffs, or “slashers” — gear that bird owners attach to their roosters to maximize damage in battle.

In all, it was a huge takedown of a cruel operation that needed to be stopped. Because it’s challenging to catch these criminals in the act, this bust is especially satisfying.

Cockfighting in the United States

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, but like every other crime, it thrives nonetheless. Bird owners pit two roosters against each other in a ring, where they fight to the death. They cannot escape the ring, so fighting is the only option to remain alive.

Gamecocks don’t fight naturally. They have to be trained to be that aggressive. Owners can spend months engaged in this training, which sometimes involves forcing the birds to run obstacle courses or treadmills. When it’s time for a real fight, the owners remove a bird’s wattles — the comb below the beak — so it can’t be torn off in the fight. They also pluck out most of the bird’s feathers.

Often the gamecocks are outfitted with sharp blades on their legs — the “slashers” mentioned above. According to the HSUS:

The razor-sharp steel blades or ‘gaffs’ (which resemble 3-inch-long, curved ice picks) tied to the birds’ legs are so sharp and dangerous that cockfighters themselves have been killed when accidentally slashed by their own birds.”

fighting roosters

Cockfights don’t end well for either bird. One dies outright, pecked and cut to bloody ribbons. The “winner” is often just as badly injured. You’d imagine the owner of a winner would nurse his prize fighter back to health, but often the poor things are left to die with broken bones, pecked-out eyes and punctured lungs, among other injuries.

While illegal in all states, cockfighting is a felony in only 42 of them. It is illegal for anyone to even attend a cockfight, but believe it or not, people actually bring children to these violent events. What are they thinking?

The point of this horrific mayhem is, of course, money.

Gamblers are behind cockfighting rings, as are narcotics dealers. This underground industry also brings about prostitution, illegal firearm sales, and illegal slot machines. Even tax evasion and murder are associated with this crime.

What Happened to All Those Seized Birds?

Sadly, the surviving rooters and hens can’t go to a sanctuary or be rehabilitated. Every one found alive was euthanized.

fighting roosters

“There is no sanctuary for fighting birds,” a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, told The Signal. “This is because they are very aggressive and cannot be housed with any other chickens. Even the hens would attack other hens. These are not pets.”

The dogs and cat seized from the property will be available for adoption, however.

Now that you know this form of animal abuse is alive and well in the United States, keep an eye out. Notify your local police if you suspect that cockfighting takes place in your community. The cruel practice will never stop unless we report the criminals who torment birds for money and entertainment.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

139 comments

Telica R
Telica R5 days ago

Horrible!!

SEND
Marie W
Marie W24 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Melania P
Melania P3 months ago

How horrible, how I detest cockfighting; really, only cruel, stupid, vulgar, and ignorant people could enjoy it :(

SEND
Jennifer H
Jennifer H5 months ago

"They detained 10 individuals found on site, but no arrests have yet been made. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are determining exactly which crimes to charge suspects with." NO ARRESTS? You have got to be kidding me. What the hell, Cal. Get with the times and get some laws that will stick against these evil cretins.

SEND
S J
S J5 months ago

No more cockfighting

SEND
Beverly C
Beverly C5 months ago

I don't know if everyone actually "read" the entire article but people who are saying thank God may want to know that the birds could not be saved...any that were found alive had to be euthanized. Not good. Very sad indeed!! :'(

SEND
Beverly C
Beverly C5 months ago

You know, back in Biblical times, two men were placed in an arena and had to fight til one of them died!! I think THAT would be poetic justice for ANYONE and EVERYONE caught cockfighting and/or dog fighting ; PERIOD! Perfect justice for the birds and/or dogs having been used for such an atrocity, in MY opinion! Since our judicial system literally "sucks", this would be an excellent way to deter any further cockfighting and/or dog fighting! Yes siree...lol...if these people thought for one minute that they just may be "in the ring" themselves one day, this sort of thing just may stop!! A taste of one's own medicine, as the old saying goes, may have a definite impact on any future animal fighting by these irresponsible morons.

SEND
Nena MILLER
Nena MILLER5 months ago

Sad story, cruelty is alive and thriving. Every person must be MORE viligent! People are mentally twisted who do this.

SEND
Philippa Powers
Philippa P5 months ago

Thank God!

SEND
Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE5 months ago

Thank goodness for neighbours

SEND