Animal Cruelty Task Force Busts Illegal Cockfighting Ring NR13132SF
Los Angeles: Radio call leads Hollenbeck patrol officers join forces with Animal Cruelty Task Force to take down illegal cockfighting operation in Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles.
On Sunday, January 13, 2013, at 7:30 a.m., Hollenbeck Patrol Officers responded to a radio call involving a cockfight in progress in the 4100 block of Rolle Street. When the officers arrived they detained 20 people for illegal cockfighting. The Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was immediately called and assumed responsibility of the investigation.
The ACTF confiscated 36 fighting roosters and numerous articles of cockfighting paraphernalia. The investigation revealed that this was a clandestine and sophisticated illegal cockfighting operation. Shrubbery and large tarps were used to camouflage the fighting ring or “Pit” where spectators gathered to watch the cockfights.
Personnel from ACTF found that many of the spectators were picked up at various locations and bussed to the blood sport event by the ring organizers. Once the spectators were dropped off, the vans used for the transportation left the area to avoid alerting people in the community and law enforcement of the illegal activity. Most of the suspects had criminal histories, which included prior convictions for Cockfighting, Assault with a Deadly Weapon/Firearm, Assault on a Peace Officer, Criminal Threats, Exhibition of a Firearm, Narcotics Sales, Domestic Violence, Battery, and Providing False information to a Peace Officer. It should be emphasized that cockfighting is not a victimless crime. Many of these illegal blood sport events contribute to other violent crimes, including robbery, weapons violations and narcotics.
On January 13, 2012, 19 suspects were arrested for violation of Penal Code Section 597 (c) -Spectator at a Cockfight. Additionally, one suspect was arrested for violation of Penal Code Section 597 i (a) - Possession of Cockfight Implements (Slashers), 597 b (b) PC- Cockfighting, and 597 (J) Possession of Gamecocks for Fighting Purposes. Pursuant to the investigation, cockfighting slashers and related cockfighting paraphernalia, including over $5,500 in cash, were seized as evidence. Slashers, also referred as gaffs, are artificial spurs that are sharpened and are used in place of the bird’s natural spurs. The purpose of the slashers is for the gamecocks to inflict as much damage as possible to each other during the cockfight. Roosters used in these events are specifically bred for their aggressiveness. Sadly, many of these injured roosters do not receive any medical attention and suffer tremendously before they die from their injuries. A common practice is to dispose of the injured birds in trash cans, or in piles with other injured or dead birds.
On April 4, 2013, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich announced that the 20 people arrested in this case would be charged with charges related to the illegal cockfight. All of the spectators were charged with one count of knowingly being present at a cockfighting event. Miguel Escalante, the owner of the East Los Angeles property used to facilitate the cockfighting event, was charged with three criminal crimes related to the illegal cockfighting operation. If convicted, Escalante faces up to three years in jail, and $25,000 in fines. The spectators could face up to six months in jail and $5000 in fines.
The ACTF was established in 2005 and consists of personnel from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Animal Services. This partnership facilitates a holistic approach to the prevention, intervention, detection, and prosecution of acts of animal cruelty. The success of ACTF is achieved through the investigative expertise of the task force members, the use of veterinary forensics, and the prosecution efforts of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The City of Los Angeles aggressively investigates and prosecutes acts of animal cruelty. There is a strong correlation between those who commit acts of animal cruelty and those who commit acts of violence against humans. The goal of the ACTF is to break the cycle of violence through aggressive prevention, intervention, detection, and prosecution of acts of animal cruelty.
For more information about the Animal Cruelty Task Force, or to report acts of animal cruelty please call 213-486-0450. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls can be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to www.LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.