NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three weekend raids just might have led to the first in a series of arrests aimed at cracking down on cockfighting in New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Schneiderman said there are more rings operating “and we’re pursuing other leads.”
In what Schneiderman calls the largest cockfighting takedown in state history, the attorney general’s office rescued 6,000 birds and made nine felony arrests following raids in Queens, Brooklyn and Ulster County.
One raid, part of “Operation Angry Birds,” targeted a cockfighting event in in Jamaica, Queens, where 70 spectators were gathered and 65 hens were recovered. Six people were arrested on charges of felony prohibition of animal fighting.
“There was illegal gambling,” Schneiderman told Cornell. “There was open use of drugs. Some of those folks were arrested — some were just spectators — but obviously the ring was shut down.”
PHOTOS: Cockfighting Bust
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.
Schnedierman said birds were found in sacks hanging on the wall waiting to fight to the death.
Investigators also stormed into pet shop on Central Avenue in Brooklyn, where 50 birds were found along with “syringes for injecting the birds with performance-enhancing drugs, and we found sharp metal spurs that are attached to the birds’ legs so they can hack each other up with even more blood than they would ordinarily.”
The pet shop’s owner was arrested on a felony charge.
The third raid happened at a 90-acre farm in Plattekill, where most of the roosters were seized and hauled away by the ASPCA in buses. 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. A farm manager and a farm hand at the scene were also arrested.
The ASPCA has established a temporary shelter to house and care for the animals.
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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