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Sunday, Jan 22, 2006County: Sussex
Case Images: 3 files available
» Rigoberto Perez - Alleged
» Gabino P. Trujillo
» Rosalio Trujillo
Case Updates: 4 update(s) available
Only four or five men were supposed to show up at Rigoberto Perez's home for some cockfights in his backyard, the 70-year-old told animal enforcement officers.
But by 11:30 a.m., more than three dozen men -- some with caged gamecocks in hand -- were gathered in the backyard of Perez's home east of Laurel.
About the same time, SPCA animal control officer Jerome Harris happened to drive by the house in the 32000 block of Whaleys Road on his way to check out an unrelated animal complaint. He noticed the large crowd standing in a circle behind the house. Then he spotted a gamecock running loose.
Harris called the SPCA's Georgetown shelter supervisor, Lt. Gerry Linkerhof, and asked him to come out, Delaware SPCA executive director John E. Caldwell said.
The cockfight had not yet started on Jan 22 when Linkerhof and Harris moved in, and spectators and gamecock owners quickly scattered. According to court records, some of the men grabbed wooden crates with gamecocks in them and attempted to hide them in the outbuildings on Perez's property.
Others ran off or jumped into their vehicles -- which had license plates from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia, Caldwell said.
Harris and Linkerhof seized 13 gamecocks as well as assorted fighting paraphernalia on the property. Perez was arrested under the state's animal cruelty statute Tuesday on felony charges of maintaining a residence for cockfighting.
He was released on $500 unsecured bail and faces a Feb. 2 hearing in Sussex County Court of Common Pleas.
According to court records, he told investigators in a video interview that he had made arrangements with a friend for four or five people to attend. Things got out of hand when 35 to 40 people showed up, he told investigators.
If convicted of the felony charge, Perez could face up to a $5,000 fine and three years in prison. He also could be prohibited from owning an animal in the state for 15 years.
Caldwell said state police searched for the fleeing suspects with a helicopter but didn't locate any of them.
In addition to the gamecocks, which are being held as evidence at an animal shelter, the animal control officers seized a scale, a box with 32 razor-sharp spurs -- designed to be fitted on the birds' legs to puncture and mutilate opponents -- and other equipment, according to court records.
National animal rights experts say each cockfight usually results in the death of one bird and the maiming of the other. The gambling exhibitions can generate thousands of dollars in wagers, and law enforcement officials say the sport has been linked to illegal drug distribution and other forms of criminal activity or violence.
"Any money, equipment or birds confiscated is automatically forfeited to the state," Caldwell said Wednesday.
He said any spectators caught watching any of the events could be charged with a misdemeanor for attending.
Sunday's was the first cockfight SPCA officers have raided in Delaware in several years, Caldwell recalled. "They told us it was a barbecue," he said.
John Goodwin, deputy manager of animal-fighting issues with the Humane Society of the United States, said there are about 20,000 active cockfighters in this country, mostly in the South, California, Hawaii and Virginia
"The cockfighting industry is interesting," Goodwin said. "It's an organized world of criminals."
Cockfighting is illegal in just about every state, Goodwin said. Nationally, the federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits carrying birds between states to use in cockfighting.
Federal lawmakers are also working to pass the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which raises the penalties for animal fighting from a misdemeanor to a felony, he said. A bill has passed the Senate, and the House version has 206 co-sponsors.
Pattrice Jones, co-director of the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, which rehabilitates roosters that have been used in cockfighting, said cockfighting is a big business and is still known to occur in the Delmarva area.
It has been some time, however, since any former fighting gamecocks have been brought to the sanctuary in Princess Anne, Md.
"The men who participate in cockfighting are very devoted to the sport and definitely will travel," Jones said. "There's a lot of moneymaking in terms of gambling and for the people who breed the birds."
|A father and son from Wilmington will be on probation for 30 days after pleading "no contest" to animal cruelty charges in a cockfight near Laurel. Forty-two-year-old Gabino Trujillo and his 19-year-old son Rosalio were charged also must pay 250 dollars in fines and 46 dollars in court costs. Animal control officials say the two men were part of a crowd of 35 people who attended the January cockfight at an address in western Sussex County.|
|Source: WGMD - June 8, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 15, 2006 - 12:03PM
|A Wilmington father and son pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges that they attended a cockfight Jan. 22 near Laurel. Delaware SPCA Executive Director John E. Caldwell said Gabino P. Trujillo, 42, of the 1100 block of W. Second St., and his 19-year-old son Rosalio, of the first block of S. Jackson St., were charged Wednesday with the animal-cruelty violation. Both men were released on $500 bail and will face a hearing in Sussex County. The men were among about 35 people who showed up in the backyard of 70-year-old Rigoberto Perez' property in the 32000 block of Whaleys Road. Animal-control officers seized 13 fighting cocks and related paraphernalia. Perez was charged Jan. 22 with maintaining a residence for cockfighting.|
|Source: Delaware Online - Feb 16, 2006|
Update posted on Mar 6, 2006 - 9:43PM
|The last time Rigoberto Pérez says he witnessed a cockfight, he lived in Havana, Cuba. The year was 1962.|
Men gathered in a circle to watch roosters peck at each other.
"The roosters ran back and forth for awhile. The first one to run away lost and that was the end of it," said Pérez, 70, a poultry plant worker. "It's a dumb tradition, but it's a tradition in our culture."
That pastime barely resembled what almost transpired Sunday at his Laurel property. On Friday, days after Pérez was charged with felony animal cruelty, he told his version of the events that have left him -- a man who has spent much of his life caring for farm creatures -- confused.
Pérez said he agreed to allow a handful of men to stop by for an afternoon gathering. About the time they were to arrive, he went to his son's nearby farm to feed goats. He returned to find 11 cars parked on his 10-acre property on Whaleys Road.
"They drove into the back of my property without permission. They even left the gates open and my cows were about to escape," he said.
In one of his barns, a stranger tried to attach a spur -- a gaff used to puncture and mutilate roosters in cockfights -- to a squirming rooster's leg. Pérez said he immediately ordered everyone off his property: "I told them, 'What you're doing is criminal. I want you out of here.' "
At about the same time, an SPCA animal control officer drove past his home and found a loose gamecock. The cockfight had not yet started when SPCA agents raided the farm. According to court records, some of the men grabbed wooden crates with gamecocks in them and attempted to hide them on Pérez's property.
Delaware SPCA executive director John E. Caldwell said Pérez was officially charged as being the property owner with illegal activity taking place there. He would not say whether Pérez appeared to be personally involved in cockfighting.
"The evidence will speak for itself," he said.
Pérez said he has not been able to find the young man who arranged the meeting. He didn't know any of the others and police -- who used a helicopter to chase the fleeing men -- didn't catch even one of the more than 30 who scattered in vehicles with license plates from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
Pérez was arrested under the state's animal cruelty statute Tuesday on felony charges of maintaining a residence for cockfighting. He was released on $500 unsecured bail.
During the raid, police seized 13 gamecocks, a scale, a box with 32 razor-sharp spurs and other equipment. SPCA officials said it was the first cockfight they had encountered in several years, although Pattrice Jones, co-director of the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, which rehabilitates roosters that have been used in the activity, said cockfighting is a big business and is still known to occur in the Delmarva region.
Pérez told police that he knew that the son of a man who helps him around the farm on occasion would come over with roosters for what he envisioned as a harmless scuffle.
"I was horrified when I saw the spurs. I couldn't believe they used them to kill animals," he said Friday.
Neighbor Jay Slavens has lived for more than 10 years next to Pérez on their quiet rural road. She was not at home when the incident occurred Sunday.
"He's a kind, quiet man who lives a quiet life," she said.
Pérez emigrated from Cuba, where he said he at one time delivered milk to dictator Fidel Castro, in the 1970s. He has lived in Laurel since 1992.
Pérez finds comfort among the dozens of creatures -- cows, goats, pigs, cats and fowl -- that roam his farm.
When his 94-year old mother died in Cuba last October, he found himself spending more time outside with his hens.
|Source: Delaware Online - Jan 28, 2006|
Update posted on Feb 10, 2006 - 8:11PM
|An arrest warrant has been issued for a Wilmington father and son, alleging they attended an illegal cockfight last month in the backyard of a home east of Laurel.|
Delaware SPCA Executive Director John E. Caldwell said that after reviewing the case with the Attorney General's Office, misdemeanor charges of violating the state's animal-cruelty statute were filed against Gabino P. Trujillo, 42, of the 1100 block of W. Second St., and his 19-year-old son Rosalio, of the first block of S. Jackson St.
If convicted, each man could face a fine up to $2,300 and/or up to a year's imprisonment and be prohibited from owning an animal for five years.
Caldwell said between 35 and 40 people showed up at the cockfight, held Jan. 22 in the backyard of a property owned by 70-year-old Rigoberto Perez, of the 32000 block of Whaleys Road.
Perez said in court records that he had given permission to a friend for four or five people to attend. But things got out of hand when more than three dozen spectators showed up.
Perez was released on $500 bail Jan. 22 after being charged with maintaining a residence for cockfighting, a felony.
Animal-control officers interrupted the event, seizing 13 fighting cocks and related paraphernalia that included steel claws, which are attached to a rooster's legs before a fight.
Perez waived his Feb. 2 preliminary hearing on the charge. The case has been transferred to Superior Court.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of either Gabino Trujillo or his son, Rosalio, is asked to call Wilmington police at 654-5151 or the Delaware SPCA at 998-2281.
|Source: Delaware Online - Feb 9, 2006|
Update posted on Feb 10, 2006 - 8:06PM
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