Monday, April 09, 2007 -- A report of suspicious activity near St. Lucie International Airport Sunday afternoon let to the arrest of 30 people for cockfighting and the confiscation of more than 100 fighting roosters, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
“This was a well organized event, with a betting board, a canopy and cockfighting stage and even a taco stand,” Sheriff Mascara said. “Deputies arrested 25 adults and 5 juveniles, and our investigation is continuing.”
The cockfight was staged on leased agricultural property at 2501 Center Road in northern St. Lucie County.
Deputies and St. Lucie County animal control officers seized 108 live birds, of which 20 were sick or injured. In addition, they seized 14 dead birds. The St. Lucie County Attorney’s Office will go to court to ask a judge to transfer ownership of the birds to the county. After that, they will be euthanized. The live birds are being housed at the St. Lucie County Humane Society.
“Cockfighting is not new in St. Lucie County,” Sheriff Mascara said. “It has been going on ever since the county was settled. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. Animal fighting is a third-degree felony, and we take enforcement of that law seriously. Animal fighting is animal torture.”
Here are the facts of the case:
Cock-fighting arrests Sunday, April 8
Location: 2501 Center Road, Fort Pierce (about a quarter-mile east of the intersection of Keen Road and St. Lucie Boulevard near St. Lucie County International Airport.)
Time: Call received at 3:11 p.m. Sunday regarding suspicious persons on the property.
Number of people arrested: 25 adults (23 males and 2 females); 5 juveniles (3 males, 2 females), for a total of 30 persons arrested (26 males, 4 females)
Charges: All were charged with Animal Fighting, a 3rd degree felony (828.122, F.S.)
Animals seized: 108 live birds (of which 10 are sick or injured) and 14 dead birds.
What happens next: The investigation by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office is continuing. It is not known at this time if there will be additional arrests. The St. Lucie County Attorney’s Office will seek a court hearing to acquire ownership of the birds. Once the county secures ownership, the county will euthanize the birds. The St. Lucie County Humane Society is housing the birds under a contract with the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners.
ON 04-08-2007 AT 1411 HOURS, I RESPONDED TO 2501 CENTER ROAD IN REFERENCE TO SUSPICIOUS PEOPLE COMING ON HIS PROPERTY LOOKING FOR THE AREA OF A COCK FIGHT (CHICKEN/ ROOSTER FIGHT). MR. HUNTER ( COMPLAINT/ PROPERTY OWNER) STATED HE FIGURED THE COCK FIGHTING WAS BEING CONTUCTED AT THE SAND BLASTING AREA ( 2642 CENTER ROAD) NORTH OF HIS RESIDENCE. SEVERAL DEPITUES AND I WENT TO 2642 CENTER ROAD, THE FRONT GATE TO THIS PROPERTY WAS OPEN, AND WE ENTERED THE PROPERTY FROM CENTER ROAD.
AS WE ENTERED THE PROPERTY, I SAW APPROXIMATLEY FORTY HISPANIC MALES RUN INTO THE WOOD LINE. THE REMAINING THIRTY OR SO HISPANIC PEOPLE REMAINED UNDER A MAKESHIFT TPYE CANVASS (APPROXIMATLEY 30 FEET BY 50 FEET) COVERING THE COCK FIGHTING ARENA AND A PORTABLE TACO STAND (WHITE IN COLOR/ WITH COOKED FOOD AND BEER), THE ARENA WAS MADE OF HALF INCH PLYWOOD (APPROXIMATLEY 8 FEET BY 24 FEET, BEING HELD UP BY TEN 4X4 POLES. THEIR WERE PLENTY OF FEATHERS INSIDE THIS ARENA FROM WHAT APPREARED TO BE ANIMALS FIGHTING (CHICKENS/ ROOSTERS). THEIR WERE APPROXIMATLEY 20 CAGES OF ROOSTER IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA UNDER THE CANVASS INSIDE THE ARENA.
I SPOKE WITH THE LEASEE OF THE PROPERTY MARTIN CHOLICO BONILLA, WHO STATED THE GATHERING WAS CONDUCTED TO SHOW OFF THEIR TOP RATED ROOSTER'S. MR. BONILLA STATED HE LEASED THE PROPERTY FROM CHRIS CARAVIAS FOR SAND BLASTING TYPE OF WORK. I TOLD MR. BONILLA THE MAKE UP OF THIS AREA WAS CONSISTENT WITH THE MAKE UP OF A COCK FIGHTING ARENA; MR. BONILLA DIDN'T MAKE ANY STATEMENTS AFTER THAT. I TOLD MR BONILLA THIS WAS A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF A COCK FIGHT.
WE CONTINUED TO CANVASS THE AREA, I FOUND APPROMATLEY 40 MORE CAGES OF ROOSTER'S IN DIFFERENT AREAS ON THIS PROPERTY. I FOUND SEVERAL NEW PACKS OF TALON'S ( USED FOR COCK FIGHTING, THE TALON ARE PLACED ON THE ROOSTER'S CLAWS AS A CUTTING INSTRUMENT FOR THE ROOSTER'S TO KILL ONE ANOTHER) ON TOP OF A ROOSTER BOX WITH LIVE ROOSTER'S INSIDE.
I CONTINUED TO CANVASS THE PROPERTY, I FOUND 2 DEAD ROOSTER'S IN THE WOODS ON THIS PROPERTY (PHOTO'S WERE TAKEN). I FOUND A 3X3 HOLE DUG IN THE GROUND ON THIS PROPERTY WITH APPROXIMATLEY 15 DEAD ROOSTER'S INSIDE (PHOTO'S WERE TAKEN). I FOUND 2 MORE BOXES OF USED TALON ON TOP OF A BOX WITH LIVE ROOSTER'S INSIDE. THEIR WAS TWO OTHER VEHICLE'S ON THIS PROPERTY WITH LIVE ROOSTER'S INSIDE A BOX INSIDE THE VEHICLE. I TOLD MR. BONILLA THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY WAS CONSTISTENT WITH COCK FIGHTING.
CRIME SCENE, ANIMAL CONTROL, DETECTIVE RUSTY RUSSELL #407 WAS SUMMONS TO THIS LOCATION. I TOLD ALL SUBJECTS PRESENT THEY WERE UNDER ARREST PER FLORIDA STATUE 828.122 FIGHTING OR BAITING ANIMALS. ALL SUBJECTS WERE TRANSPORTED TO THE COUNTY JAIL FOR PROCESSING.
THREE JUVENILES WERE PRESENT, THEY WERE TRANSPORTED TO THE JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER FOR PROCESSING. THE CRIME SCENE WAS TURNED OVER TO DETECTIVE RUSSELL. ALL PARAPHERNALIA WAS PLACED INTO EVIDENCE.
Names of the adults arrested (in alphabetical order):
Juan Mandragom Alcanta, 6/34/65, of Fort Pierce
Wilian O. Barrios, 9/14/66, of Annandale, FL
Manolo Bautista, 5/25/88, of Arcadia, FL
Hernal I. Bernal, 10/15/76, address unknown
Martin Bonilla-Cholico, 3/11/63, of Fort Pierce (He was the leasing the property from the owner)
Palfilo Castro, 6/1/70, of Fort Pierce
Alejandro Fernandez, 4/8/80, address unknown
Alfonso Omar Consuegra, 7/19,69, of Silver Springs, FL
Santiago Flores Fernandez, 2/8/70, of Fort Myers
Evan Garcia, 3/16,77, of Jensen Beach
George Garcia, 5/30/72, of Lantana, FL
Gustavo Gonzalez, 9/15/57, of Fort Pierce
Mendoz Gonzales, 3/8/79, of Desoto, FL
Manuel Guillen, 3/3/62, of Port St. Lucie
Alefredro Gutierrez, 4/20/78, of Jensen Beach
Leodegario Gutierrez, 3/6/67, of Arcadia, FL
Maria Malaco, 12/14/51, of Fort Pierce
Jorge Munos, 8/23/73, of Stuart
Dustin Murphy, 3/9/88, of Oviedo, FL
Milton A. Murphy, 2/22/56, of Zolfo Springs, FL
Luis A. Ramirez, 9/24/81, of Fort Pierce
Miguel Santana, 5/7/83, of Fort Pierce
Arturo Benjamin Silva, 3/22/68, of Orlando
Maria Soto, 5/22/57, of West Palm Beach
Julio Vernadac, 5/123/86, of Arcadia, FL