Cockfighting Ring Busted Near L.A.

Authorities in the Antelope Valley seized 228 alleged cockfighting roosters while serving a search warrant in the Antelope Valley, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday. In addition to the roosters, 500 to 600 pounds of cannabis — worth an estimated $500,000 on the street — and a .22-caliber rifle were seized. A male suspect was arrested and booked at the Palmdale sheriff’s station, though authorities did not say what he was charged with.

cockfighting roosters
cockfighting roosters
More than 200 alleged cockfighting roosters were seized by L.A. Sheriff’s deputies. (Image: L.A. County Sheriff’s Department)

“Cockfighting and illegal trafficking of drugs run hand in hand,” read a statement from Wayne Pacelle, president of the animal-rights group Animal Wellness Action. “The northern, remote parts of Los Angeles County have long been a hotspot for illegal cockfighting operations, and here we see this plain evidence of this organized criminal activity again.  We are grateful to law enforcement and other key players for shutting down this operation.”

California’s anti-cockfighting law provides either for misdemeanor felony penalties. It is also a federal crime to engage in a wide range of cockfighting activities, including possession of animals for fighting.  Los Angeles County has an ordinance banning private ownership of large numbers of roosters, as do Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties.

Coming Home to Roost

Last week, authorities in Cherokee County, Texas raided a cockfighting ring, citing 50 people and seizing 97 roosters. In March 2022, 32 people were cited and 125 roosters euthanized after a raid on a cockfighting in Dorchester County, South Carolina. In February 2002, Texas authorities seized more than 100 chickens in an alleged Dallas-area cockfighting operation, turning them over to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And in April 2021, Dallas authorities seized nearly 300 birds from a Grand Prairie, Texas, cockfighting operation.

Congress passed a law 20 years ago that made possessing and shipping birds for cockfights illegal. Five years later, it became a federal felony. Though cockfighting is illegal in all 50 US states, it is culturally accepted and legal in much of South America. In the Philippines, it is considered the national sport, and “the World Slasher Cup” is a popular annual televised event.

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