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June 12, 2012

Suspected Calif. Cockfighters Raided

The HSUS helps rescue 388 birds, seize more than 1,100 cockfighting knives


The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team helped Tulare County Animal Control with a cockfighting investigation and raid in Visalia, Calif., resulting in the arrest of two suspected cockfighters and the seizure of 388 birds.

Investigators found suspected cockfighting paraphernalia on the property, including more than 1,100 cockfighting knives, making this the largest seizure of cockfighting knives in U.S. history. The Tulare County Sheriff's Office was also on the scene to assist with the raid.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez and his wife, Leticia Aguilar Gonzalez, were arrested and each charged with 1,107 counts of possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, conspiracy, and multiple other charges related to cockfighting. Juan Carlos Gonzalez is a confirmed U.S. distributer for Sanchez-Mendoza, a Mexico-based company suspected of selling cockfighting paraphernalia.

"Aggressive investigation of allegations of animal fighting is essential to maintaining community safety," said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for The HSUS. "We are grateful for the leadership of the Tulare County Animal Control and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for their dedication to this case." 

"Animal fighting has no place in Tulare County," said Paul Grensemen, manager of Tulare County Health & Human Services Animal Control Shelter. "Abuse of this nature attracts additional elements of criminal activity and only serves to compound already unethical and illegal conduct. We're pleased to work with The Humane Society of the United States and the Tulare County Sheriff's Department in the eradication of animal fighting in Tulare County." 

The HSUS assisted law enforcement in examining and documenting the birds on the scene. Experts from The HSUS and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office were on hand to help identify and document evidence and coordinate the rescue effort. 

Facts

  • Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 40.
  • Cockfighting is a felony in California, but only on the second offense.
  • The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. The HSUS asks anyone with information about animal fighting criminals to call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Tipsters' identities are protected. 

*Video and photos from the scene available upon request; media may download b-roll of the rescue.

Media Contact: Katie Jarl, 713-516-7892, kjarl@humanesociety.org

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