Cockfighting bust yields thousands of birds as well as weapons, drugs

Posted at 1:44 AM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 01:44:54-04

SANTA CLARITA, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - Cockfighting is illegal in every state, but the bloody sport, which pits two roosters against each other in violent combat, still takes place in underground operations.

Video taken by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office shows the scope of a Tuesday raid in California that is being called the largest seizure in US history of cockfighting birds. Between 6,000 and 7,000 birds were seized.

A law enforcement agent said the raid included mobile fighting pits and hundreds of the tools placed on the roosters to motivate them to fight - called gaffs, or slashers. Those are the brutal tools of the cockfighting trade, razor-sharp blades that are fastened to the birds’ legs.

“The bird is being stabbed repeatedly to the chest area,” said Eric Saksch, a senior humane society law enforcement officer.

Syringes and steroids were also found - tools to make the fighting birds strong and lethal.

“It’s not unusual for both birds to be dead,” Saksch said.

The Humane Society says this is the largest cockfighting operation in US history, and investigators say the evidence recovered, which includes illegal drugs and a shotgun with the serial number removed, is overwhelming.

“Mind-boggling,” Saksch said. “The scale of this operation defies belief.”

And yet a woman who lives right next door to the raid's site claimed to have no knowledge of it, saying, “I believe there was no illegal cockfighting going on.”

Authorities detained 10 people who work on the property, but the property owner was not taken into custody.

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