A New York cockfighting bust, the largest in the state’s history, has saved close to 3,000 birds from a cruel fate. The aptly titled “Operation Angry Birds” – named after the hugely popular game – captured nine individuals accused of operating the enormous underground cockfighting ring.
According to CNN today, 3,000 rooters were rescued across three New York counties. Syringes were seized along with other evidence of the illegal betting ring; officials say many of the birds were injected with performance enhancing drugs.
“Operation Angry Birds targeted locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Ulster County with help from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Ulster County Sheriff's office,” State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
The ASPCA has set up temporary housing to care for the birds.
“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,” the Attorney General added.
Authorities said the furtive world of cockfighting involved secret locations that would constantly change and big bets – up to $10,000 per game. Spectators were charged fees to watch and alcohol was often illegally served.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states. In New York, according to CNN, "cockfighting and possession of a fighting bird at a fighting location are felonies that carry a maximum sentence of four years in jail and a fine of $25,000."
"My office will keep working to hold these individuals accountable, and put an end to illegal cockfighting," said Schneiderman.