Several dozen people fled from law enforcement officials during a mid-day cockfighting bust in Santa Maria on January 5. The fight was being held “in the midst of bee hives” to protect from law enforcement or others who might tip off the cops.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a large group of cars gathered on private property on Mahoney Road near the Santa Maria Public Airport around 11 a.m. on Sunday--a quiet time when many local residents were attending religious services.
As they arrived, officers saw about 20 cars parked in a field and could hear roosters crowing. They entered the property and immediately discovered a cockfight in progress, cleverly located “in the midst of bee hives,” according to the Santa Maria Sun.
Authorities apprehended four suspects—and another 20 to 30 people fled the scene. They also seized 19 roosters and some cockfighting equipment, including metal fighting spurs and other items consistent with cockfighting and gambling.
According to a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Department, two of the roosters had to be euthanized due to severe injuries sustained from fighting.
The remaining gamefowl were transported to the Animal Control facility in Santa Maria, where they’re being held as evidence. Once the legal holding period is over, it’s likely the birds will be euthanized because of their inherently aggressive behavior, officials confirmed.
The case has been forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, writes the Santa Maria Sun.
The last cockfight bust in the Santa Maria area occurred in March at a property on Orchard Road in Nipomo, where enforcement agents netted 233 birds and various cockfighting paraphernalia.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriff Darren Davidson told the Sun at the time that rural areas in Northern California are hospitable to cockfighting operations because they're removed from the eyes of law enforcement and nosy neighbors.
He said authorities have seen an increase in such activities over the last decade.
“[Cockfighting] has always been around in this area, but nothing like what we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Davidson told the Sun, "It seems like there are people raising roosters on every corner.”
The most-popular theory on why cockfighting has become so popular has to do with state laws, he said. Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, and it’s a felony in 40 states.
California is one of the 10 remaining states in which cockfighting is a misdemeanor. The low penalty makes it very inviting to locals and out-of-state 'blood-sport' aficionados!
Source: Santa Maria Sun