New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week announced a huge cockfighting bust that has led to the arrests of nine people on felony cockfighting charges. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Angry Birds," was led by the New York Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) in cooperation with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
According to the Attorney General's office Authorities were able to rescue around 3,000 birds during the bust. The animals are being held at a temporary shelter established by the ASPCA.
"No animal should be forced to fight to the death for human entertainment and profit, and we are proud to play a leading role in removing and caring for these victimized birds, as well as offering expert legal assistance in this case," said Matthew Bershadker, CEO and president of ASPCA. "This collaborative investigation, intervention and enforcement is a giant step toward our shared goal of wiping out cockfighting in America."
The cockfighting raid took place this past weekend at three separate locations. On Saturday night/Sunday morning the OCTF, Homeland Security, and New York State Police raided a cockfighting venue located in Queens. The venue was secured with security cameras and attendees were charged for both admission and seats. Inside participants were able to purchase alcohol sold without a permit or use drugs openly while watching cock fights overseen by a paid referee.
Around 70 people at the cockfighting event were detained. Six people determined to be the owners of fighting birds have now been charged with felony prohibition of animal fighting.
During the same time period the OCTF executed a search warrant on a Brooklyn pet store named Pet NV. Authorities recovered fifty fighting birds from the pet shop's basement. The shop's 74-year-old owner has been charted with prohibition of animal fighting.
On Sunday State Police and local law enforcement also raided a farm in Plattekill, New York. The ASPCA recovered upwards of 3,000 birds that were being secretly kept on the property. A farm manager and a farm hand have both been arrested and charged in connection with the cockfighting operation.