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1,200 birds found in suspected cockfighting operation

June 22, 2010 |  3:25 pm

Montebello Authorities this week raided a massive cockfighting complex in Montebello that housed some 1,200 birds.

A multi-agency task force served a search warrant Monday on a four-acre property in the 300 block of South Bluff Road long suspected of being used for cockfighting, said Capt. Aaron Reyes of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority.

Animal control officers and investigators from the Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montebello police and fire departments found an extensive complex of blood-splattered fighting rings, coops and training areas and razors that would be attached to the birds’ legs during fights.

At least half the birds were individually housed roosters who had feathers, spurs and flesh removed from their heads to prepare them for fighting.

“They were very good-looking, beautiful birds, but unfortunately, raised, bred and kept for fighting purposes,” Reyes said.

Some of the birds were seized by animal control, but the majority remain on the property, where they are being cared for, photographed and tagged while authorities put together a case to present to the district attorney’s office.

“This was a substantial size of operations,” said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for the Humane Society of the United States. “Most operations that we see tend to run up to 200 birds.”

Last month, authorities seized 500 cockfighting birds in coordinated raids in San Diego and Orange counties.

In 2007, authorities found 5,000 birds and charged dozens in connection with a massive cockfighting ring in San Diego County near the Mexican border.

Authorities have questioned the woman who rents the property and are looking for anyone who attended the cockfights or rented space there.

The Humane Society offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone involving in illegal animal fighting, according to a news release.

Anyone with more information may call the group at 877-TIP-HSUS (877-4787).

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Holding cages found at an alleged cockfighting complex in Montebello. Credit: Southeast Area Animal Control Authority