Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4963
Classification: Fighting
Animal: chicken
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Saturday, Jul 2, 2005

County: Chesterfield

Disposition: Alleged

Abuser names unreleased

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Most of the chickens seized during a cockfighting raid in Chesterfield County have been returned to their owners, Sheriff Sam Parker said.

Deputies didn't want to return the animals, but had no choice because the county didn't have the money or ability to shelter and feed the dozens of birds, Parker said.

"It's a high-dollar industry," said Parker of the chickens that can sell for as much as $3,000. "Considering how much they're worth, I'm sure their owners are going to take adequate care of them."

About 80 people were arrested July 2 when deputies raided a wooded area near McBee.

Deputies found about 100 chickens at the site. Thirteen of them were dead and another eight went unclaimed.

Investigators took pictures of the birds before returning them, the sheriff said.

Cockfighting remains a misdemeanor in South Carolina with a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. That means the cases will likely be handled in magistrate court, prosecutor Jay Hodge said.

Spectators were charged $20 and anyone who wanted to fight a chicken had to pay $200, Parker said.

The suspected ringleaders of the cockfight have not cooperated with investigators, the sheriff said.

Parker says most of those arrested were from Darlington and Kershaw counties in South Carolina and Robeson and Scotland counties in North Carolina.  He said the arrests were the result of investigations during the past two years that missed catching the operation a couple of times. A tip Saturday morning paid off and brought Chesterfield deputies and animal control officers to the McBee site.

Police seized chickens and cockfighting equipment as well as thousands in cash and two pounds of marijuana. The also found evidence of cockfighting, with about 100 chickens at the site, including several that were dead.

Parker says it looked like a death arena. Investigators say people were competing for a 5-foot trophy inscribed "2005 Cock Fighter of the Year."


Case Updates

Authorities say they are still sorting out the evidence and leads after uncovering a large-scale cockfighting operation in Chesterfield County during the weekend. Between 60 and 80 individuals were taken into custody on charges ranging from cockfighting to marijuana possession at the scene of the bust, a wooded area off McKenzie Road in McBee. Most or all have since been released after posting bail.

"Basically, everyone is out and awaiting their court date, which has been scheduled for July 13 in McBee," Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker said.

Investigators said they think the ringleaders of the operation were McBee brothers J.B. McKenzie and Johnny McKenzie and alleged co-conspirator Marshall Bundy of Wagram, N.C.

The McKenzies have denied ownership of the property raided Saturday, but records indicate that the land does belong to the McKenzie family. Bundy might have acted as the host of the event, as well as coordinated similar cockfighting outfits in both Carolinas and Georgia, Parker said.

"They're not cooperating. They're denying everything," Parker said.

Fourth Circuit Solicitor Jay Hodge confirmed this week that because of cockfighting's nonfelony status, the case might likely be prosecuted exclusively in magistrate court.

Spectators were charged $20 for general admission. Those wanting to fight their roosters were charged $200.

Of the 100 chickens discovered on the site, 13 were already dead and another eight were confiscated as they were unclaimed.

The rest, albeit reluctantly, were returned to their owners after being photographed and documented, Parker said. He cited the county's lack of resources and facilities needed to house, feed and care for the dozens of fighting fowl as the reasoning for that decision.

The gamecocks' expensive price tags, anywhere from $400 to $3,000, might ensure their well-being, Parker said.

"It's a high-dollar industry," he said. "Considering how much they're worth, I'm sure their owners are going to take adequate care of them until."

Under state statute, cockfighting is classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $100 fine and as many as 30 days in jail.
Source: Morning News Online - July 6, 2005
Update posted on Jul 9, 2005 - 6:00AM 

References

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