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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009County: San Luis Obispo
Case Images: 1 files available
» Salvador Godoy
» Rigoberto Diaz
» Custodio Torres
» Armando Benitez Hernandez - Convicted
» Marcos Francisco Flores
» Arturo Lemus Palomares
» Miguel Angel Lemus
Case Updates: 4 update(s) available
The suspects arrested this week in Nipomo in one of the largest cockfighting busts in San Luis Obispo County history include four Santa Maria men and a Nipomo man.
All five have been charged with possession of gamecocks for fighting, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.
Santa Maria residents Salvador Godoy, 72, Rigoberto Diaz, 60, Custodio Torres, 46, and Armando Hernandez, 27, along with Manuel Merino, 48, of Nipomo, were arrested Wednesday morning during a raid at two properties in the 600 block of Joshua Street.
Godoy, Diaz and Torres, who has been arrested in the past on misdemeanor possession of gamecocks for fighting, had all posted $2,000 bail by Thursday morning. Hernandez and Merino were still in custody.
Deputies seized 1,216 fighting cocks and about 800 other birds, mostly breeding hens, during the morning raid at the southern Nipomo compound, where 940 birds, including fighting cocks, were also seized during a February 2006 raid.
Fighting tools, training equipment, enhancement-performing drugs and antibiotics for the birds were also found at the large rural property, which included several living quarters.
Deputies began investigating an alleged cockfighting ring at the Nipomo rental property in November, acting on an anonymous tip that fights were taking place there.
"We had no idea how large it was going to be," said sheriff's Rural Crime Unit Deputy Darren Davidson. "We estimated about 500 birds."
Davidson said cockfighting rings seem to be on the rise in southern San Luis Obispo County compared to the northern part of the county, and that more properties like the Joshua Street compound are "popping up."
Eric Sakach, chief response officer for the Humane Society of the United States, said cockfighting "is definitely on the rise, especially in California."
"People often think cockfighting occurred in ancient times and should have died out long ago, or that it happens in other countries," Sakach said. "Unfortunately, that's not the case."
The ancient blood sport of cockfighting is largely based on gambling, where a single purse can exceed $34,000, Sakach said. That keeps the illegal activity alive and flourishing in some areas, he said.
Cock fights are between two roosters - specifically bred and trained for fighting - that have spurs or razors attached to their legs. Spectators place bets on the outcome of the fights, which are held in a ring.
"This activity can be extremely lucrative ... and the amounts of money (that can be won during a cockfight) are phenomenally high," Sakach said, adding that authorities once seized $90,000 during a raid where a cock fight was in progress.
Because California is one of the few remaining states where possession of gamecock for fighting is not a felony, people here also tend to engage in cockfighting more, Sakach said.
He said the only way to curtail cockfighting in California is through legislation to increase the penalties for possessing birds for fighting.
"California still doesn't lead the nation on this problem, and it's something that needs to be corrected," Sakach said.
Eleven of the fighting roosters discovered Wednesday are being held at the County Division of Animal Services shelter in rural San Luis Obispo, and the remaining birds have been contained at the Nipomo property.
Animal Services Manager Dr. Eric Anderson said the 2,000-plus seized birds likely will be destroyed if there are convictions in the case.
|Three of several men in connection with a massive cockfighting ring in Nipomo will appear in court Wednesday. |
Salvador Godoy, Rigoberto Diaz and Custudio Torres will be arraigned in a San Luis Obispo County courtroom. The three face felony charges of intent to commit a crime and possessing roosters with the intent to fight.
During a raid in January, police say they found nearly 1,000 birds at the home on Joshua Street.
|Source: ksby.com - Feb 25, 2009|
Update posted on Feb 26, 2009 - 3:47PM
|Three more men accused of being involved in a Nipomo cockfighting ring appear in court. |
Manuel Merino, also known as Marcos Flores, faces felony charges of intent to commit a crime and possessing roosters with the intent to fight.
Arturo Lemus Palomares and Miguel Angel Lemus face the same charges. These two men are also charged with possessing methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine with intent to sell.
All three are expected to be arraigned on these charges next week, February 17.
|Source: ksby.com - Feb 10, 2009|
Update posted on Feb 11, 2009 - 11:29AM
|One of the five men arrested in a massive cockfighting bust in Nipomo has pled guilty. Armando Hernandez will serve 30 days in jail, three years probation and pay a $500 fine for possessing cockfighting paraphernalia. He must also forfeit his roosters, hens and all cockfighting paraphernalia.|
Another defendant, Manuel Merino, also known as Marcos Flores, will face a judge Tuesday.
Investigators said they found 2,000 birds at the Nipomo farm during last month's raid.
|Source: KSBY - Feb 9, 2009|
Update posted on Feb 9, 2009 - 11:13PM
|Two men in court this morning for their alleged role in the Nipomo cockfighting ring pleaded not guilty to charges against them, according to the District Attorney's Office. |
Marcos Francisco Flores pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of gamecocks for fighting and possession of cockfighting implements, which are both misdemeanors.
Authorities initially believed the man to be 48-year-old Manuel Merino of Nipomo, but they have since identified him as Flores.
Another man, Armando Benitez Hernandez, 27, of Santa Maria, was charged with misdemeanor possession of gamecocks for fighting.
Both men have Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds because authorities say they're unsure of their documented statuses. But their legal residency won't be looked into until after their local criminal cases are resolved, attorneys involved in the case say.
Three other men arrested last week after a search warrant was executed at a property at Joshua Street in Nipomo have yet to be arraigned. They are Salvador Godoy, 72; Rigoberto Diaz, 60; Custodio Torres, 46, all of Santa Maria. Those men are expected to be arraigned later this month in the county's Grover Beach courtroom, according to Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth.
Dobroth says the continued investigation of the cockfighting could result in more arrests and new charges.
|Source: SanLuisObispo.Com - Feb 2, 2009|
Update posted on Feb 3, 2009 - 6:59PM
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