388 birds were rescued and weapons were seized this week during a raid of a suspected cockfighting operation in Visalia, CA. The seizure of more than 1,100 cockfighting knives is the largest in U.S. history, according to a statement released by the Tulare County sheriff's office and the Humane Society of the United States.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez -- a confirmed U.S. distributer for Sanchez-Mendoza, a Mexico-based company suspected of selling cockfighting paraphernalia -- was arrested, along with his wife Leticia Aguilar Gonzalez, according to officials.
Each are charged with 1,107 counts of possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, conspiracy, and a variety of related charges.
Said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for The HSUS, "Aggressive investigation of allegations of animal fighting is essential to maintaining community safety...We are grateful for the leadership of the Tulare County Animal Control and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for their dedication to this case."
"Animal fighting has no place in Tulare County...Abuse of this nature attracts additional elements of criminal activity and only serves to compound already unethical and illegal conduct," said Paul Grensemen, manager of Tulare County Health & Human Services Animal Control Shelter.
Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 40, including California, but only on the second offense.