Authorities seize 7000 birds in LA County cockfighting raid

Cameron Gross
May 17, 2017

The largest seizure of cockfighting birds in USA history took place this week after a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation led to a raid at a remote canyon, authorities said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said approximately 7,000 birds were recovered from the property in the unincorporated area of Val Verde near Castaic Junction and Santa Clarita.

Investigators found hundreds of gaffs or slashers, which are strapped on the birds' feet so they can fight to the death, mobile cockfighting rings and syringes filled with steroids.

Ten people were detained at the scene, Perry said.

Some 7,000 birds that had been used illegally were seized, authorities said at a Tuesday news conference at the sheriff's downtown L.A. headquarters.

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Anywhere between six and seven thousand birds have been seized in Southern California.

Perry, who commands the sheriff's community partnership bureau, said the warrants served Monday in Val Verde were the culmination of a months-long investigation by detectives who specialize in "animal, blood sport type crimes".

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The Humane Society received complaints earlier this year from area residents of suspected cockfighting going on in the Val Verde/Castaic area, said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for the Humane Society.

Several living birds had respiratory diseases, and lab testing was underway to identify the infection, officials said.

After the 2007 raid, the operators apparently soon began fighting roosters again, Perry said.

"We anticipate to make several arrests in relation to this case", Perry said.

"They stand around the pin, rooting on these birds as they basically duke it out until one of the birds dies", said Botti.

"Cockfighters or rooster handlers, let those birds who suffer injuries during cockfighting to go untreated or throw the birds away in the trash afterwards", Deputy Lillian Peck said.

Although it is illegal, cockfighting remains a popular and lucrative betting sport, authorities said. On cockfighting websites, prices can range from $250 to $1,000.

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