Investigate transport of fighting roosters
Large shipments of fighting roosters were reported to have been made to Hawaii from a San Diego area cockfighting operation.
Authorities in San Diego conducted the largest cockfighting raid in U.S. history last weekend, seizing more than 5,000 roosters, hens and chicks and arresting 50 people on misdemeanor charges. The sting should be followed by a federal investigation of the operation's reported shipment of many birds to Hawaii and the Philippines, a felony under a new federal law.
Police found most of the birds at a 7-acre compound near the Mexican border -- the same location where they had seized 2,500 roosters six years ago. If convicted only at the state level, the defendants are likely to pay fines and return to the grounds in anticipation of their next raid some years from now.
However, President Bush signed a law in May making interstate or foreign transport of animals, including roosters, for fighting purposes a federal felony carrying a penalty of up to three years in jail. According to reports, Hawaii and the Philippines had received large shipments of birds from the San Diego-area operation.
The raid followed a six-month investigation by San Diego County's Department of Animal Services. Information about the shipments should be provided to the U.S. Justice Department for further investigation of possible shipments made since May.
The San Diego reports confirm that Hawaii remains an arena for cockfighting. It is a felony in 33 states, but Hawaii legislators have failed to take the sport's cruelty seriously, leaving it a misdemeanor.
Federal law-enforcement officials were reluctant to put large resources into prosecuting illegal interstate transport of fighting roosters during the 30 years when it was a misdemeanor. The San Diego raid creates an opportunity to bring felony charges against the perpetrators.
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