In North Carolina police captured at least 73 people who secretly assembled to watch a $40,000 bloody cockfighting tournament, authorities said.
In central Carolina, three chicken houses have been cleaned out to prepare a secret cockfighting pit and hidden parking lot for the people who would come to watch and bet on this gruesome blood sport between two roosters fitted with metal spurs and pitted against each other, according to the Randolph County Sheriff Maynard Reid Jr.
Police detained 73 people of the age group ranging from 16 to 79 and charged them all with cockfighting and cruelty to animals.
Mr Reid said, many people managed to escape through a back door when they raid the site about 15 miles (24 kilometer) southeast of Asheboro in the center of North Carolina.
"I had no idea it would be this large," Reid said. "I've raided these things before and (if) you get 20 or 25 people, you've got a big crowd. I thought that this was unreal."
Mr Reid described the horrible scene when they arrived at the spot. A fight was ongoing and one of the gamecocks jumped up onto the betting table and spattered blood on investigators’ search warrant.
Already 20 combating birds were dead before police reached the spot.
Sheriff said the tournament was held at the place owned by Barry Ritter, 33, along with his father, who could not be arrested. Ritter charged $25 from each to watch the show. The tournament’s grand champion was supposed to win $40,000.
"I think it was used at one time to raise chickens," Reid said. "Now it is being used for cockfighting. They had a rural area. They thought nobody would catch them there. But I think we've sent a message that we will not tolerate this in our county."
Investigators seized 73 vehicles, two firearms, cash, and 139 live roosters, who they have handed over to animal control officers. Police also found cocaine and marijuana at the spot.
According to John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for The Humane Society of the United States, a large number of cockfighting rings could be found in North Carolina despite of the fact that it is illegal in this state from 2005.
This heinous blood sport has been outlawed in many countries for its association with animal cruelty and gambling. In many states in USA participating in cockfight in any manner is illegal (first law made against cockfighting in 1836 in Massachusetts).
Goodwin said the Humane Society is focused on passing felony laws in a number of other states that haven't yet done so.
"If you can win a $40,000 prize, what kind of deterrent is a $200 misdemeanor penalty going to be?" Goodwin said.
Last week police busted another cockfighting ring in north of Midland, TX and arrested about 83 people. See the YouTube video above.