Over 3,000 birds were found and 70 people detained in the largest cockfighting ring takedown of the history of the United States this weekend.
“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,” stated Attorney General Schneiderman Feb. 9.
Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) made nine felony arrests in “Operation Angry Birds,” across the Queens, Kings and Ulster counties, from Saturday night through Sunday. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) will be assisting with sheltering the birds.
Saturday night, OCTF raided a cockfighting event at 74-26 Jamaica Avenue in Queens where six were felony arrests were made.
According to ASPCA’s blog post, carcasses of roosters that had been killed Saturday during a fight before the bust were found as well.
The busted ring had been holding events at least twice a month since last May, when OCTF first began monitoring the location.
At the same time as the event raid, OCTF searched Pet NV and found 55 birds bred and trained for fights in the basement.
The roosters at the pet shop, owned by Jeremias Nieves, 74, at 71 Central Avenue in Brooklyn, were in poor condition in individual metal cages. Syringes used to inject performance-enhancing drugs were found.
“No animal should be forced to fight to the death for human entertainment and profit, and we are proud to play a leading role in removing and caring for these victimized birds, as well as offering expert legal assistance in this case,” ASPCA president Matthew Bershadker said in a statement. “This collaborative investigation, intervention and enforcement is a giant step toward our shared goal of wiping out cockfighting in America.”
Sunday morning, OCTF and local law enforcement raided a 90-acre farm at 230 Plattekill Ardonia Road, in Plattekill, where ASPCA recovered nearly 3,000 birds.
The location was previously registered as a commercial farm but had been unregistered since 2010. There, thousands of hidden, makeshift cages were found. Farm manager Manuel Cruz, 60, and farmhand Jesus Cruz, 37, were arrested and are expected back in court Monday.