A cockfighting bust, referred to as "Operation Angry Birds," resulted in three separate raids on Saturday and Sunday. Officials discoverd a bloody late-night cockfight in the dark and dirty basement of a vacant Queens store.
Police discovered birds waiting for their fights kept in sacks hanging from the walls, officials said on Sunday.
An estimated 3,000 birds were confiscated, and more than 70 people rounded up in the largest cockfighting bust and rooster rescue in state history, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
“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. My office, along with our partners in law enforcement and animal welfare, are committed to ending this vicious blood sport."
A large number of the birds found had been altered to cause more damage to other birds by removing their natural spurs and replacing them with sharper metal spurs, unethically attached to their bodies.
WATCH: Major cockfighting ring busted in New York. http://t.co/zmB3FqR3IP
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Officials identified some of the men arrested in Queens and facing felony charges as Elisandy Gonzales, Orlando Bautista, Noel Castillo, Francisco Suriel, and Edward Medina. They are accused of violating a state law prohibiting animal fighting, as well as conspiracy.
About 70 spectators who took part in the fight were taken to the 102nd Precinct. The criminal complaint against three of the suspects said cockfights were held in the Jamaica Avenue basement twice a month.
The spectators were cheering a fight when the officers, backed up by State Police troopers and officers from the federal Department of Homeland Security, marched in. Also involved in the raid were experts from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), who took the birds to safety.
ASPCA's president Matthew E. Mershadker commented on the bust: “The brutality that’s associated with this is shocking. If you have a soul, if you have a conscience, you know very quickly that this is a vile, vile betrayal of what’s right. These animals suffer horrifically.”
The ASPCA has set up a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location, where the birds will be cared for and given medical attention until they can be placed.
The force and number of officials involved in this raid should speak volumes to anyone considering this horrific act, and help others to realize it is extremely illegal as well as immoral.
Image via ASPCA