51 animals rescued in cockfighting bust

Jose Lara (pictured) was arrested when officials broke up a cock fighting ring in Liberty County. Irasema Ramirez was also arrested. Additional charges and arrests are expected as the investigation continues, police said.

May 2, 2011 10:18:10 AM PDT
A large-scale illegal cockfighting ring in Liberty County was busted, leading to the arrest of two men and the rescue of 51 animals. The Liberty County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous tip on Saturday. The tipster said there was a cockfighting ring in operation on C.R. 4872 in the Dayton area.

Deputies arrived at the address given during a children's party, complete with a water slide in front of the location.

However, once the fight participants saw the officers from behind the party, investigators said they began to flee to their vehicles and on foot into the tree line.

Deputies blocked the exit. That's when police say the suspects began to speed and crash into one another in desperation, just feet from the children.

The suspects then drove around a LCSO vehicle, crashing through a wooden fence and fleeing in multiple directions from the scene.

Officials said they walked further into the property discovered a gruesome scene, just feet away from where the kids had been playing.

According to investigators, numerous dead and dying fowl were found. They also discovered a small barn constructed with a fighting ring inside, complete with scales, tags, entry slips and other evidence of the cock fights.

There were numerous live fowl, still pinned in cages throughout the entire property, officials said. Some were still armed with steel blades attached to them, and some were found in serious condition, suffering from cuts and loss of blood.

Deputies located one firearm and a steel machete near a makeshift kitchen area where food was being prepared and sold to the fight participants.

Investigators believe the children's party was only a front to cover the organized criminal activity taking place just feet away from the children.

Sheriff Henry Patterson was advised of this incident and responded to the scene. He coordinated the efforts of LCSO investigators and SPCA Houston, who was contacted and responded with all of their available resources.

Eight vehicles were removed from the property and two large four wheelers with no VIN plates were also recovered. Several vehicles found on the property had been specifically modified for transporting the birds. One trailer was modified with carpeted wooden cages, lights, air conditioning and an exhaust system, officials said.

A total of 48 birds were recovered alive, many valued at more than $1,000 each. A horse and two dogs -- all in poor condition -- were also removed from the property by SPCA.

Two arrests were made at the scene.

Jose Lara and Irasema Ramirez were taken to the Liberty County Jail for failure to identify and Interfering with a law enforcement investigation.

Additional charges may be forthcoming and more arrests are expected as the investigation moves forward.

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