A Romanian princess and her husband, a former Oregon sheriff’s deputy, were arrested by federal agents Thursday during a cockfighting ring bust.
John Wesley Walker, 67, and his wife Irina, 60, reportedly the third daughter of Romanian King Michael I and Queen Anne, are suspected of staging 10 cockfighting derbies at their ranch near Irrigon, Ore., in April and May 2012, federal prosecutors said.
Irina Walker, born in Switzerland, is fifth in line to inherit the Romanian throne. While her father King Michael was forced to abdicate the thrown in 1947 to the communist party, his family still owns a quarter of the castles in Romania.
Her husband John Walker is a former Coos County sheriff's deputy.
The U.S. attorney’s office said 18 people were arrested in eastern Oregon and southcentral Washington.
The couple facing charges including illegal gambling and conspiracy to violate the federal Animal Welfare Act.
U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, chief federal prosecutor for the state of Oregon called the Walker’s derbies a “fairly large-scale cockfighting venture.”
The derbies included dozens of roosters, usually armed with “knives, gaffs and other cutting instruments attached to their legs, fighting to the death,” according to the The Oregonian.
The venture brought in approximately $2,000 a day from gambling and admission fees.
“Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts,” said Marshall.
If convicted on all counts, the couple could face years of prison time and millions of dollars in fines for the criminal enterprise. Prosecutors are asking for the federal forfeiture of their ranch.