On the night of Friday, Aug. 16, KOMO 4 News reported that 18 persons were arrested in a Kennewick, Wash. cockfighting ring. Among those arrested on Thursday, Aug. 15 were a Romanian princess and her husband, a former Oregon sheriff's deputy.
Cockfighting is an illegal activity and this animal fighting ring was well-organized and widespread. Local, state, and federal law officials collaborated in the raid that spanned five locations in Wash. and Ore. and resulted in the arrest of 18 people.
"All these people know each other and it's a weekly event for them during the fighting season," stated Agent in Charge Gary Drumheller.
Agents believe that Cecilio Mendosa Magana of Kennewick is a breeds fighting roosters. Authorities discovered a large breeding operation and medicine and syringes that are used for fighting birds.
According to Drumbeller, most of the birds would sell for between
$500 to $1,500 each.
A federal indictment charged six people with operating an illegal gambling business. Included in the arrests were former Oregon sheriff's deputy John Walker and his wife, Irina Walker, who is a Romanian princess.
According to the indictment, cockfights allegedly occurred on their Oregon ranch. Government prosecutors state that the couple staged at least 10 cockfighting derbies between April 2012 and April 2013. The fights brought in as much as $2,000 daily. The birds had blades attached to their legs and spectators were charged admission to watch the cockfights. Food and drink were also sold during the fights.
During a cockfight, two roosters are forced to fight one another while spectators bet on one of the birds. After the fights, the injured birds' injuries go untreated. Many of these animals are thrown away afterwards.
Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), cockfighting is a felony in both Oregon under ORS 167.428 and 167.431 and Washington under RCW 16.52.117.
Under RCW 16.52.117, a person is guilty of animal fighting if they knowingly do any of the following:
(a) Owns, possesses, keeps, breeds, trains, buys, sells, or advertises or offers for sale any animal with the intent that the animal shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another animal;
(b) Knowingly promotes, organizes, conducts, participates in, is a spectator of, advertises, prepares, or performs any service in the furtherance of, an exhibition of animal fighting, transports spectators to an animal fight, or provides or serves as a stakeholder for any money wagered on an animal fight at any place or building;
(c) Keeps or uses any place for the purpose of animal fighting, or manages or accepts payment of admission to any place kept or used for the purpose of animal fighting;
(d) Suffers or permits any place over which the person has possession or control to be occupied, kept, or used for the purpose of an exhibition of animal fighting; or
(e) Takes, leads away, possesses, confines, sells, transfers, or receives a stray animal or a pet animal, with the intent to deprive the owner of the pet animal, and with the intent of using the stray animal or pet animal for animal fighting, or for training or baiting for the purpose of animal fighting.
The 18 people who were arrested were arraigned on Friday in federal court in Portland or Yakima.
Cockfighting is often associated with other crimes, including gambling, illegal gun sales, drug dealing, and even murder. Chickens - including roosters - can make excellent pets and roosters will rarely hurt one another severely during normal living situations.
Seattle Pets Examiner will continue to provide updates to this story as they occur.
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