Photo Credit: Alex Gallardo/for the Humane Society of the United States
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."
A cockfight in Mexico
Sixty-eight people were arrested in Hesperia on Saturday for their alleged connection to a cockfighting ring, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities said the bust came after deputies received an anonymous tip that fights were being held in a barn on Summit Valley Road, the San Bernardino Sun reports.
When they reached the barn, deputies found a large cockfighting operation in progress. They managed to make the 68 arrests on both felony and misdemeanor charges, but many more people fled on foot, authorities said. Deputies also seized more than $20,000 and 63 roosters.
Of the arrestees, 32 have been identified as possible undocumented immigrants and placed on “INS holds,” the Sun reports. Officials say the arrestees are from around the region, including Los Angeles, Panorama City, Riverside and Palmdale.