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Sheriff raids cockfighting operation

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Some of the animals were kept in air-conditioned pens, others in wire cages. Courtesy photoSome of the animals were kept in air-conditioned pens, others in wire cages. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

CLEVELAND — A raid on a cockfighting operation in southwest San Jacinto County resulted in numerous arrests and the seizure of thousands of dollars in property.

The raid Perry Lane in North Cleveland, which is in San Jacinto 

was the result of months-long investigation.

Sheriff Greg Capers said that on Sunday, seven people, whose names are not yet being released, were arrested on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. During the raid, officers seized about $20,404 in cash, a 2016 Kia sedan, a 2014 Toyota Sienna, a 2019 Mercedes van, and a 2018 Ram 3500 pickup.

Additionally, 12 roosters valued at $10,000 apiece were taken, along with thousands of dollars in stolen property.

Capers said that aside from it being against the law, the activity is intensely cruel to the animals, and since he raises cattle, he finds it reprehensible. 

“There is no place in our society for such inhumane treatment of these innocent animals,” he said.

Capers said the birds are placed in an enclosed pit to fight for the primary purpose of gambling and entertainment with thousands of dollars being waged. A typical cockfight can last anywhere from seven minutes to more than a half hour and usually results in the death of one or both birds. 

The birds have steel blades tied to their legs for the purpose of injuring or in most cases killing the opponent. Capers said gamecock owners themselves have been killed when accidentally slashed by their own birds.

Additionally, according to the Sheriff, federal and state law enforcement often associate cockfighting with other criminal activities such illegal gambling, drug trafficking, assaults, human trafficking, illegal weapons sales and even murder. 

Federal investigations have uncovered international drug cartels running sophisticated cockfighting operations as a means of distributing drugs across the country, he said. 

More arrests are expected as the investigation continues. 

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