News

3,000 birds seized in record-setting cockfighting bust

3,000 birds seized in record-setting cockfighting bust

BIRDS: Officials seized some 3,000 birds in the largest cockfighting bust in New York history. Photo: clipart.com

(Reuters) – Nine people were arrested and some 3,000 fighting roosters and hens rescued when New York authorities busted a cockfighting ring they said was one of the biggest ever uncovered in the United States.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrests and said in a statement: “Cockfighting is a cruel, abusive and barbaric practice that tortures animals, endangers the health and safety of the public and is known to facilitate other crimes.”

Officials simultaneously raided an apartment building in the New York City borough of Queens where 70 people were attending a fight overnight Saturday, and also a pet shop in Brooklyn that dealt in fighting chickens as well as a 90-acre (36-hectare) farm in Plattekill, New York, where thousands of roosters and hens were kept and trained.

“Operation Angry Birds,” named after a popular mobile game, targeted a gambling operation where people bet up to $10,000 on a single fight to see roosters, often fitted with knives, battle to the death, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Some 70 people at the Queens apartment building, where cockfights had been held twice a month since May, were detained and questioned, and about 65 birds seized, the attorney general’s office said.

It was the biggest cockfighting bust in New York history, authorities said.

Nine people were charged with felonies, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine up to $25,000, authorities said. Cockfighting is illegal in every U.S. state.

Spectators paid admission and a seat fee for the all-night fights in the basement, where alcohol and drugs were sold, prosecutors said.

In some of the locations, authorities found cockfighting paraphernalia, such as fake rooster spurs, candle wax and syringes used to inject the birds with performance-enhancing drugs, ASPCA officials said.

Humane societies and animal rescue groups in seven states are helping with the shelter and transfer of the animals, officials said.

“Our primary goal was to immediately remove these birds from a cycle of violence and suffering,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Scott Malone and Stephen Powell)

Recently Played

Latest Headlines

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the character Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, left, and the character Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from, "Avatar." The film was nominated Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 for an Oscar for best picture. The 82nd Academy Awards will be presented on March 7.

A look back on some of Hollywood's most notable headlines.

in Entertainment

If regular people picked the Oscars, ‘American Sniper’ would win

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Kyle Gallner, left, and Bradley Cooper appear in a scene from "American Sniper."

If ordinary Americans voted for the Academy Awards, the portrait of a sharpshooter in the Iraq war, would be the best picture winner.

in Music

Pharrell heading to ‘The Simpsons’

pharrell

The "Happy" hitmaker and the famous Vivienne Westwood hat he wore to the Grammys are heading to Springfield.

in Viral Videos

Elders play Grand Theft Auto V

20-overlay2

They have no problem shooting people, but they refuse to run a red light!

in Entertainment

Regina Hall almost became a nun

reginahall

The "Think Like a Man" star missed out on becoming a nun because some of her "numbers" were too high.