Roosters tortured then forced to fight in south side cockfighting operation

(Provided Photo/IMPD)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of birds born for one reason: to fight, often until one dies.

Disturbing details are emerging following a major bust of a cockfighting operation Friday morning. Authorities say many of the birds’ body parts were butchered, all in effort to make them better fighters. Altogether 219 birds were seized.

The raid happened at a home near Raymond and State streets on the city’s south side. Police arrested Pedro Torres-Torres, who rented the home. They don’t believe he was having the fighting matches at his home, but they do believe he was breeding, training and prepping the birds — perhaps a more horrific process than the actual fights.

The roosters are trained to fight until one dies. That may be how their lives end, but it’s not where their pain begins.

“It’s a very gruesome surgery that is done on a table in a barn or a garage. But that way there’s less likelihood that their animal will bleed out during a fight,” explained Rob Townsend from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Townsend says handlers removed the rooster’s combs and waddles, which is the skin on their head and neck. They also removed their spurs and replaced them with sharp objects like knives.

“The natural instincts for males to confront each other now becomes a deadly fight because of the knives and gaffs that are attached where their spurs were once,” said Townsend.

The birds that do survive often suffer punctured lungs, eyes and broken bones according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). ASPCA was on the scene assisting in transporting the birds to a temporary shelter set up by Animal Care. From there, the birds will be examined to determine which are healthy enough to survive, and which ones will not survive.

Neighbors watched in horror as authorities removed the chicks, hens and roosters from the home.

“I don’t have any words to describe what I feel about this,” said David Young, who lives in the area. He continued, “It’s just sickening cause it’s an animal. They feel pain just like we do.”

Jerry Vernon watched as authorities surrounded the property. He said, “They’re sort of sick in the head when they go to talk about doing things like that.”

Cockfighting is profitable. Handlers make money off of bets, which is why the Gaming Commission is involved. Townsend isn’t sure how much this operation brought in. But he did say top prizes can be worth more than $100,000, and the best birds can sell for thousands.

“We’ve had cases where a trained rooster can sell for $5,000 to $6,000. We’ve had knowledge of one sale up to $23,000,” said Townsend.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has not said what charges they plan to file against Torres-Torres. The Gaming Commission said training animals to fight, conducting a fight and promoting fighting are all felonies.

Investigators are still trying to figure out where the fights took place. As a result, more people could be arrested. It is also a crime to watch an organized animal fight.

If you have any information that could help in this investigation, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

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