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Cockfighting not exactly a victimless crime

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GregCapersSheriffIf you are reading this article, then you more than likely you enjoy the San Jacinto News-Times and have read about the arrest and seizures my office has made on cockfighting in March 2022 and most recently in November.

Cockfight derbies, as they are known, often attract hundreds of people, as was the case in the November arrest and seizure in Cleveland. A wide range of criminal activities, like illegal gambling, home invasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal weapons sales and even murders are not uncommon, which creates a dangerous situation for my deputies, county residents, and even non-residents of our community.

Gambling is the norm at cockfights, and the primary reason the fights occur. Hundreds of thousands of dollars can exchange hands as spectators and animal owners wage on the fate of their birds.

In organized cock fights, the roosters natural fighting instincts are exaggerated through breeding, feeding, training, steroids, and vitamins. A bird may undergo several months of training before a fight.

Fights may be held in abandoned buildings, backyards, farms and can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. While the rules usually do not require one or both birds to die to declare a winner, death is often the outcome due to the severity of injuries.

Even birds that aren’t killed during cockfights suffer terribly. Most roosters live tied to a stake or in a small wooden cage. They are often injected with steroids and adrenaline-boosting drugs, and for 2 to 3 weeks prior to the fight are kept in that small cage to isolate them from other animals and deprive them of stimuli and natural behavior.

Regardless of how exhausted or injured they become during a fight; the bird cannot escape from the fighting pen. Common injuries include punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes, yet they are forced to continue to fight. The razor-sharp steel blades, or gaffs, which resemble a 3-inch long curved ice pick tied to the bird’s leg are so sharp and dangerous that cockfighter owners themselves have been killed when accidentally slashed by their own birds.

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Cockfighting is illegal in Texas as well as the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. In Texas, however, cockfighting is permissible under certain circumstances, namely, “if the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.”

Federal investigations have uncovered international drug cartels running sophisticated cockfighting operations as a means of distributing illegal drugs across our county and beyond.

If there is a bright side to the arrest and seizure that my office is responsible for is the seizures resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars collected upon conviction in a court of law.

I should like to add that these arrest and seizures were a direct result from residents of the county who contacted my office to report what they believe to be illegal activity which prompted an investigation, arrests, and prosecution which are now under way.

As always, I hope you find this information informative as well as helpful. Should you suspect any illegal activities of this nature please contact my office at the non-emergency number (936) 653-4367 for assistance or in any emergency, please call 911.

Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.

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