40 arrested in cockfighting ring in Napa Co.

August 1, 2010 2:41:45 PM PDT
Dozens of people are facing criminal charges after Napa County sheriff's deputies raided a brutal cockfighting event.

When police walked onto the remote American Canyon property Saturday afternoon, people scattered. The cockfight was happening alongside busy American Canyon Road, yet it was perfectly hidden behind a hill at the end of a driveway.

Someone called police that afternoon and told them what was going on.

"We found about 65 at the light end to maybe 80 gentleman viewing and participating in an active cockfight, in a makeshift arena," said Sgt. Mike Hunter with the American Canyon Police Department

When the crowd saw the officers, it broke up in a hurry. Dozens of men took off running, but police were ready.

"We had assistance from California Highway Patrol, both their air units, their helicopter and their fixed-wing, their ground units," Hunter said.

A total of 34 men were arrested, some on the run, the rest inside. They were cited and released, but as they left the property, no one wanted to comment. Many of them shielded their faces when they saw ABC7's camera. The landowner was hauled away in the back of a police car and taken to jail.

Inside, police say they found 50 live roosters and two dead ones. Felony charges are still possible including animal cruelty.

"Anytime you're dealing with animal cruelty, I think it's a pretty sensitive subject with almost any area and I know that we take that serious," Hunter said.

The landowner is in jail and he is not cooperating with police. He faces the same misdemeanor charge that the other men face, participating in a cockfight. Officers say he could face more charges.


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