Texas Police Arrest 169 People After Raiding Cockfight

Posted Jan 4, 2010 by Chris Dade
After a surveillance operation lasting two weeks, police in Texas raided an illegal cockfight being held in a barn on Saturday, in the process arresting 169 people.
Cockfighting is a criminal offense in Texas, as it is in 38 other states in the U.S., the Guardian confirming that in the remaining 11 states of the U.S. it is a misdemeanor which lands those convicted of being involved in what they consider to be a sport with a fine.
Practiced for hundreds of years in various countries around the world, cockfighting apparently still attracts a considerable number of followers in the U.S., despite it being outlawed in many parts of the country.
In its fact sheet on cockfighting the Humane Society of the United States suggests that those who defend their "sport" on the basis that it is a tradition should remember that "At one time the United States allowed slavery, lacked child abuse laws, and refused women the vote".
The Humane Society notes too that children are often present at cockfights and the Star-Telegram reports that following the police raid on Saturday near Poolville, Parker County, which is in Northern Texas, between 10 and 15 children, aged seven through 15, are being cared for by Child Protective Services (CPS) after they were detained at the scene of the cockfight.
Police also seized 114 roosters during the raid, it is not clear how many were dead and how many were injured, as well as cash and drugs. The Guardian says that cockfighting rings are often associated with criminals involved in drug smuggling and money laundering rackets, reporting also that a raid in Chicago in December led to a cockfight organizer and nine spectators being found with guns and syringes containing steroids in their possession. Steroids are used to induce more aggression in the birds that are destined to fight.
The appearance of a helicopter overhead gave the first indication that police were about to move in on Saturday and as a consequence many of those attending the cockfight in Northern Texas dispersed before arrests were made.
Sheriff Larry Fowler explained what charges await those arrested on Saturday, saying:The people who were arrested will go before a judge and be charged with a gambling offense. We will look into charging some who were arrested with federal charges. A charge of engaging in organized crime is a possibility for some
Cockfights reportedly have tens of thousands of dollars riding on them and while owners of the roosters pay $200-$300 to enter their birds in fights spectators might be paying $30 for entrance to the fight venue.