Local News

Sampson Authorities Uncover Cockfighting Ring

Posted February 14, 2006 4:18 a.m. EST

— A cockfighting bust was so big, it even caught investigators off guard. Sampson County officers seized dozens of birds, as well as chilling evidence.

Investigators got a tip and went to a house along Page Road, near Godwin.

"When we pulled up and find all these birds, we were all surprised," said Sampson County Animal Control Chief Tim Bass.

They found more than 80 roosters ready for the ring. Investigators rounded up the birds and took them to the county animal control center, where they are mostly in good condition. However, many are missing cones on the top of their heads. Apparently, people cut them off to make the birds less vulnerable in fights.

Investigators also took evidence. They seized a punching bag for training the birds, medical supplies for patching the roosters up, and spurs for making the roosters more deadly.

Authorities said that cockfighting is a big business.

"Drugs are involved," said Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton. "Alcohol's involved. Gambling's involved."

Investigators arrested five adults: Manuel Delgado, Olegario Cueuas, Armand Calzada, Zenaido Penaloza, and Francisco Avalos. They're out on bond.

Neighbors weren't surprised by the bust.

"I knew they were not eating the roosters, so I knew they were doing something with them," said neighbor W.O. Johnson.

Animal control will house the roosters until a judge decides if anyone has a right to get them back. If not, the birds could be put to sleep.