NEW YORK(CBSNewYork/AP) — Dozens of people are in custody and nine people face felony charges in a massive crackdown on cockfighting dubbed “Operation Angry Birds.”
The New York Attorney General’s Office and the ASPCA raided a fight on Saturday night in the basement of a Woodhaven barber shop.
Investigators said that 65 birds were found and 70 people were taken into custody, including six who were arrested on felony prohibition of animal fighting charges.
At the same time, in Brooklyn, 50 birds were rescued from a pet shop and the owner was arrested.
During an upstate raid 3,000 birds were found and two people were arrested at an Ulster County farm. The farm’s owners charged rent to cockfighting enthusiasts from various other states, including, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts to board, feed and care for roosters that were bred and trained to fight, prosecutors said.
Authorities said the roosters had razor-sharp gaffs attached in place of their spurs and were locked in small pens to be wagered on. The ASPCA has established a temporary shelter to house and care for the animals.
At the cockfights, spectators were charged admission fees and an additional fee for a seat within the secret basement location that housed the all-night fights, authorities said. Alcohol was sold without a permit and owners and spectators placed bets on the fights with individual wagers reaching $10,000.
“Cockfighting is a cruel, abusive and barbaric practice that tortures animals, endangers the health and safety of the public and is known to facilitate other crimes,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
In New York, cockfighting and possession of a fighting bird at a cockfighting location are felonies and each charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000, according to the attorney general’s office. Paying to attend one of these events is a misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
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