Man arrested after more than 700 roosters seized on eastern New Orleans property
When an anonymous call came in reporting that a home in eastern New Orleans was illegally harboring more than 50 roosters, authorities with the Louisiana SPCA didn't suspect that they had been tipped to the largest animal seizure in its 125 year history.
Officials say they found more than 700 roosters and other birds in a raid Wednesday on a property authorities suspect was a breeding ground for a large, underground cockfighting operation.
"It's unbelievable how many there are," LASPCA spokesman Jeffrey Elizardi said Wednesday, while LASPCA members were still in the process of rounding up the birds and transporting them via an 18-wheeler and a large 20-foot vehicle. "We've collected about 450 roosters so far -- but there must be 700 or 800 in total," Elizardi said.
Over 700 roosters seized in New Orleans East
Officials say they found more than 700 roosters and other birds in a raid Wednesday on a property authorities suspect was a breeding ground for a large, underground cockfighting operation. It is the largest animal seizure in SPCA's 125 year history.
New Orleans police arrested 47-year-old Trinh Tran during the seizure. Tran was booked on charges of felony cruelty to an animal and cockfighting charges. Tran was also slapped with a misdemeanor citation for being in possession of exotic animals, which, without a permit, is illegal in Louisiana.
Elizardi said the search involved 25 to 30 LASPCA employees, or about half of the organization's full-time staff. He said the operation began Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. and has been prolonged by the fact that many of the roosters were loose on the property -- some hiding in trees -- and had to be captured in nets.
Cockfighting was banned in Louisiana in 2008, the last state in the nation to outlaw the practice. New Orleans outlawed roosters in March 2013. LASPCA's CEO Ana Zorilla said she hopes the discovery provides a chance for lawmakers to revise what she sees as weak penalties for those involved in cockfighting.
Cockfighting 08.14.13 - camera set 2 222.JPG
Some of the cockfighting spurs confiscated by the SPCA while breaking up a huge cockfighting operation in New Orleans East Wednesday, August 14, 2013.
Jeff Elizardi, LASPCA
"When you see cases like this, where it's clear these birds are fighting to their death, it is clear that there should be more done to prevent this type of thing," she said.
The state penalty for a first offense is a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in prison. A second or third offense is a felony punishable by up to six months in prison at hard labor and a maximum fine of $2,000.
"Cockfighting is an inhumane practice where intentional pain is inflicted upon another living creature for the sake of barbaric entertainment, and any complaints of such activity are taken very seriously," Zorrilla said. "Unfortunately the laws in Louisiana currently do not provide serious punishment, and this needs to be changed."
Authorities received an anonymous tip about the birds being kept in the 14000 block of Chef Menteur Highway, which consists of several buildings with a large, fenced-in area in the back. Members of LASPCA responded to the complaint a couple of days before the seizure, but realized quickly that the number of birds on the grounds was much more than the 50 described by the tipster, Elizardi said.
The property is located between two commercial strip malls near the outer limit of eastern New Orleans. Zorilla said the location might have contributed to the size of the operation: "This was clearly a professional operation, it was very well-organized."
Orcelin Ordonez, who has lived for two years next door to the complex where the birds were being held, said he had heard roosters but had never been able to see the extent of the operation.
Members of the LASPCA and NOPD officers conducted a full search of the property Wednesday morning, and confiscated 450 roosters. An additional 100 to 150 chickens and other birds were found running loose on the property.
Elizardi said about 140 55-gallon oil and chemical barrels were also found on the property. The barrels were empty and had been altered into cages for the birds. Each barrel housed one rooster, he said.
One building on the property housed approximately 100 young roosters, also called cockerels, some of which were kept in incubators, while another building was home to what Elizardi called the "premier" roosters -- the largest and most mature of all the birds.
The property was exceptionally clean for housing as many animals as it did, Elizardi said. "But there is nothing humane about it, nonetheless. There is nothing humane in keeping this many animals for that purpose," he said.
Zorilla said that while the birds themselves appeared to be healthy, that is expected of cockfighting operations, where owners want to keep their birds in the best fighting condition.
All of the birds are being cataloged and will be held as evidence at the LASPCA's facility. Zorilla said that while her staff will be able to find homes for some of the hens and chicks, the aggressiveness of the roosters prohibits the LASPCA from finding new homes for them. With care costs estimated at $3.30 per bird, per day, Zorilla said the birds would be a "substantial drain" on her organization.
Man arrested after more than 700 roosters seized on eastern New Orleans property | NOLA.com
Re: Man arrested after more than 700 roosters seized on eastern New Orleans property
Was his name Mike Vick. Sorry but i had to go their.
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