May 30, 2008

Neighbors' complaints lead to rooster roundup

Neighbors' complaints lead to rooster roundup
By FRED DAVIS, The Enterprise

Updated 05/29/2008 11:51:13 PM CDT

They weren't pit bulls and there were no NFL superstars banking the operation.

Instead, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit came across what could be described as a minor league cockfighting operation run by undocumented Mexican immigrants behind a mobile home in the 7300 block of Shady Lane in western Jefferson County.

"We understand they were fighting the roosters every Sunday and training them to fight in Louisiana," said Sgt. Randy Walston.

Aside from the dozen or so roosters the narcotics officers discovered, there was also an ounce of cocaine tucked inside a woman's sock behind some insulation under the mobile home.

Officers also found a small amount of marijuana and mango-flavored rolling papers.

The cocaine had a street value of $1,300 to $1,400.

The four immigrants and a 40-year-old Orange woman were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Maj. Jimmy Singletary said all five were booked into the Jefferson County Jail and that the four immigrants would be held by Immigration, Customs and Enforcement officials without bond. A bond had not been set on the Orange woman.

Singletary said complaints from neighbors spurred surveillance of the home, which led to a search warrant executed late Wednesday night by the Narcotics Unit and Jefferson County SWAT.

Det. Robert Ogden said it was clear from fresh scratches that the roosters were being used for cockfighting.

"I saw one rooster that you could tell had been sparring recently," Ogden said.

The roosters, despite the nicks and scratches, all appeared to be in good condition and didn't look malnourished, Singletary said.

While there is no specific cockfighting charge, the five suspects could face charges of cruelty to livestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and or $4,000 fine.

Jefferson County Animal Control is expected to take custody of the roosters.

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