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Monday, Oct 7, 2013County: Lee
Alleged: Roberto Torres
The Lee County Sheriff's Office says it has shut down a Fort Myers cockfighting ring, after receiving an anonymous complaint about several caged roosters Monday.
The tipster had gone to the home as a potential buyer for the property listed for sale.
A responding deputy found a large number of roosters on the property.
Due to the nature of the discovery, an investigation was launched to look into the possibility the animals were being raised for cockfighting.
As a result, a search warrant was served at 5171 Neal Road in Fort Myers.
Over 100 roosters, hens and chickens were on the property at the time. The sheriff's officer says the livestock was being bred and used in illegal cockfighting.
They say an area of the property was used for the fights. Beer bottles lined the shelves of a makeshift bar, while tables and cages for the roosters were adjacent for prepping the animals before placing them in the ring.
In that bar, investigators say they found items that could help break up the entire ring -- a computer and log books.
"There is probably word out to others... some people laying low I would imagine whose names are in those books and computers," said Sheriff Mike Scott.
Investigators also seized vitamins, steroids and needles. They say they also found razors and spurs in the backyard that were attached to the birds' feet.
"An artificial spur usually a razor blade broken off and it's a brutal ugly thing," described Sheriff Scott.
One person living at the residence has been arrested in connection with the operation.
Roberto Torres, 50, is charged with baiting, breeding, training, transporting, selling, owning, possessing, or using any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting, which is a third degree felony.
He also faces a charge of owning, leasing, managing, operating, or having control of any property kept or used for such activity, which is also a third degree felony.
The sheriff's office says the operation in total could be worth more than half a million dollars. Sheriff Scott says a top fighting rooster could go for as much as $6,000.
The animals have been inspected by a veterinarian and will be temporarily housed at the sheriff's office agriculture impound area.
Deputies say the animals will have to be euthanized once a judge's order is received.
The sheriff's office says the investigation is not over as detectives continue to search for more people connected to the ring.
- NBC - Oct 9, 2013
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