Texas Cockfighting Ring Busted,19 Arrested
Some 19 men were recently arrested after sheriffs busted a cockfighting ring in San Jacinto County, Texas.
The news has only reached media attention this month after the raid occurred on October 18.
Around 200 to 300 people were present at the event, according to police. Cops were able to apprehend 19 people, with around 100 vehicles left behind when the rest of the crowd escaped into the woods in the rural area.
“Deputies also observed in plain view a large wooden permanent covered structure with a round wooden cock fighting arena, temporary wooden bleachers, lawn chair seating, and a working kitchen/concession stand all located under the permanent structure,” the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release on social media.
Gambling Paraphernalia, Firearms and Steroids Found
Cockfighting events see pairs of roosters pitted against each other in what’s usually deadly combat, often with blades attached to their legs. Sometimes, events are held purely for the gruesome spectacle. But more often than not, illegal gambling is also involved, as attendees bet on which rooster will come out on top.
The practice has been widespread across the world for thousands of years. As modern attitudes shifted, it is now illegal in all 50 U.S. states since 2007, whether or not gambling is involved.
However, it continues to exist in an underground fashion, as evidenced by some 300 attendees at the recent Texas event. Official investigators found gambling was indeed going on there, as well as the cockfights.
“Also located under the covered structure were various items of gambling paraphernalia, including a dry erase board documenting various “fights” between birds, which indicated that some 44 matches/fights had already taken place earlier in the day,” the statement said.
Deputies also found steroids and syringes, cages, 96 live birds, and dozens of dead ones around the property.
Additionally, $28,000 in cash was found among the possessions of the 19 arrested suspects, along with five firearms.
As well as illegal cockfighting and gambling charges, the arrested could face felony counts of animal cruelty.
In Texas, organized cockfighting offenses carry a potential two-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. Even being a spectator at such an event is a class C misdemeanor.
“The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to identify the suspects that fled the scene, which were either participating in the cock fighting and/or animal cruelty, as well as those that were there to observe the cock fighting and/or animal cruelty,” the Sherriff’s office said.
“Those found to have been at the scene will be charged to the maximum extent the law allows.”
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Cockfighting Hard to Stamp Out
While the blood sport is illegal across the U.S. and its incorporated territories, many South American cultures still openly practice it, with various states of legality across the continent.
This gives it an enduring popularity among South American immigrant communities in the U.S, although it has historically been and remains popular in European cultures, as well as many others globally.
The practice is especially popular in Puerto Rico, where local law enforcement often turns a blind eye to clandestine events. Island Governor Pedro Pierluisi has called for an exemption to the federal ban for his U.S. territory, which was enacted by Donald Trump in 2019.
Given its questionable ethics and the federal ban, it’s hard to see the new Puerto Rico retail sportsbooks like BetMGM and Caesars offering bets on the practice, even if an exemption was granted for the island.
Elsewhere in the country, earlier this year an altercation at an illegal cockfight gone wrong in Hawaii saw two people shot dead and several others injured.
This week did see a more positive story for Texas gamblers, specifically fans of Texas casinos. Billionaire Shark Tank investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban publicly restated his ambitions to build a multibillion casino resort project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Speaking at a Chase conference in Frisco, Texas,h e also mentioned Nevada-based international gambling operator Las Vegas Sands as a potential partner.