NEW YORK (AP) -- More than 3,000 birds were rescued in a three-county cockfighting takedown in New York this weekend that resulted in nine felony arrests, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
In a statement released Sunday night, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it was the largest cockfighting takedown in New York state and among the largest in U.S. history.
"Operation Angry Birds" simultaneously targeted locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Ulster County with assistance from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Ulster County Sheriff's office, 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," Schneiderman said.
At the cockfights, spectators were charged admission fees and an additional fee for a seat within the secret basement location that housed the all-night fights, authorities said. Alcohol was sold without a permit and owners and spectators placed bets on the fights with individual wagers reaching $10,000.
In Queens, authorities raided a cockfighting bimonthly event where 70 people were taken into custody, including six who were arrested on felony prohibition of animal fighting charges. The ASPCA took control of 65 fighting birds, authorities said.
In Brooklyn, a pet shop was raided where 50 fighting birds were rescued from a basement beneath the pet shop. The pet shop's owner was arrested on a felony charge and cockfighting contraband, including artificial spurs and syringes used to inject performance enhancing drugs into the roosters, were also found.
The pet shop owner was charged with prohibition of animal fighting, prosecutors said.
Authorities also raided a 90-acre farm in Plattekill, rescuing as many at 3,000 birds. The farm's owners charged rent to cockfighting enthusiasts from various other states, including, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts to board, feed and care for roosters that were bred and trained to fight, prosecutors said. A farm manager and a farm hand at the scene were arrested.
Authorities said the roosters had razor-sharp gaffs attached in place of their spurs and were locked in small pens to be wagered on. The ASPCA has established a temporary shelter to house and care for the animals.
In New York, cockfighting and possession of a fighting bird at a cockfighting location are felonies and each charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000, according to the attorney general's office. Paying to attend one of these events is a misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Massachusetts lawmakers approved legislation Thursday to crack down on those who secretly take photographs of "the sexual or other…
Legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military by stripping senior commanders of their authority to prosecute rapes and other serious…
A new survey of the nation's college freshmen has found that the percentage attending their first-choice school has reached its lowest…
Indiana health officials say packages of Original Skittles sold at an eastern Indiana store were contaminated and that two people who ate…
A northern New Jersey honor student who has sued to get her parents to support her after she moved out of their home had her initial request…
Fans of Chipotle guacamole, rest easy.
The former Internal Revenue Service official at the heart of the agency's tea party scandal once again refused to answer questions at a…
Less than two years after Congress approved a landmark bill to overhaul the federal flood insurance program, lawmakers are poised to undo…
A northern New Jersey honor student is suing her parents for financial support and to force them to pay for her college.
The harsh winter has been rough for some businesses, but for a lucky few, the frigid weather means more cold, hard cash.