300 Spectators Flee into Woods as East Texas Cockfighting Bust Unfolds

On November 8, 2023, at 07:13h, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office disrupted an illegal cockfighting event in rural east Texas, causing up to 300 people to flee into the woods. Nineteen individuals were apprehended, with 43 vehicles pending forfeiture and 75 cars towed from the scene. The cockpit, described as a large, wooden permanent structure with seating and a working kitchen, held 44 cockfighting bouts earlier that day.

Ninety-six live gamecocks and several dead roosters were rescued from the property, along with numerous gaffs, vitamins, steroids, and other drugs used to enhance roosters’ fighting abilities. Additionally, gambling paraphernalia, including a dry erase board indicating the number of bouts, were found at the scene.

In Texas, causing birds to fight one another, using property for cockfighting, and possessing cockfighting paraphernalia are all illegal, with punishments ranging from fines to jail time. The association between cockfighting and other criminal activities, such as drug abuse and illegal gambling, is also well-documented. Police seized over $22K in cash and five loaded semi-automatic pistols from the arrestees.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers emphasized that animal cruelty would not be tolerated in the county and that the investigation was ongoing. While cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, it remains culturally accepted and legal in many South American countries, contributing to its popularity among South American immigrant communities in the US.