Los Angeles Police Bust Biggest Cockfighting Ring in US History

Posted on: May 17, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2017, 02:19h.

A raid by Los Angeles police Tuesday on a rural property in Val Verde, Los Angeles County, uncovered what authorities believe to be the biggest cockfighting ring in US history.

Police bust biggest cockfighting ring in US
The 7,000 birds retrieved at the compound in LA County could be worth anything from $350,000 to several million dollars, police said. Many had injuries consistent with cockfighting. (Image: Dolores Ochoa/AP)

Law enforcement seized 7,000 birds from the 80-acre compound, many of which had injuries consistent with cockfighting.

They also retrieved numerous hooked razors, known as “gaffs” or “slashers,” which are attached to the birds’ talons, as well as syringes and steroids, which are typically used to bolster a bird’s fighting ability.

Sheriff’s Captain Jeff Perry said that the raid was the culmination of a month-long joint investigation involving the police, the Los Angeles County District Attorney Bureau of Investigation, and several animal rights organizations.

Thousands Wagered on Each Match

Since gamecocks can sell for anything between $75 to $150 each to $1,000-plus for “prize fighters,” police believe the value of the birds seized in Tuesday’s raid to be anywhere from $350,000 to several million dollars.

In a news conference Tuesday, officials said that cockfighting is often a hotbed for other types of criminal activity, including illegal gambling, tax evasion, drug abuse and violence. Thousands of dollars can be wagered on a single match, authorities said.

Eric Sakach, the senior law enforcement specialist for the Humane Society of the United States, said several local residents had voiced their suspicions to authorities that cockfighting was taking place on the property but the scale of the operation had surprised everyone.  

Gruesome Spectacle

Sakach later told ABC7 that the “gaffs” style of fighting was particularly gruesome.  

“The bird is being repeatedly stabbed to the chest area,” he said. “It’s not unusual to hear a bird to start to vomit up or regurgitate blood.

“You’ll often see these guys put the bird’s head in their mouth and suck the blood out of the bird’s throat because that may buy the bird a few extra seconds of breathing to be able to attack its opponent and win the fight.”

“These guys are gamblers,” he added. “They bank on the idea that they’re not going to get caught.”

Around 10 people were arrested during the raid but authorities said they consider to be lower level figures in the operation. The owner of the property has been identified but remains at large.

“Any kind of animal blood sport activity will not be tolerated in Los Angeles County,” said Perry. “If anyone has information about any type of animal blood sport activity, I urge you to call your local law enforcement agency.”