Shame states to make cockfighting a felony
A Louisiana man has been indicted by a federal grand jury here on felony charges of trying to smuggle cockfighting spurs.
HAWAII, Virginia and Tennessee are among only a few states that have neglected to make cockfighting a felony offense, but federal authorities are letting it be known that they won't tolerate the criminal activity in those three states. Cases involving cockfighting-related federal charges are pending in those states, and further federal action should shame them and other derelict states into making cockfighting a state felony.
A federal grand jury in Honolulu last week indicted a 49-year-old Louisiana man on charges of smuggling 263 gaffs, the sharp metal spurs fitted to fighting roosters. It is believed to be the first such indictment since a federal law making it a felony to transport cockfighting instruments across state lines or into the United States went into effect in May.
Joseph M. Toralba of Colfax, La., was returning home from the Philippines, where cockfighting is legal, when the gaffs were found in his luggage at Honolulu Airport.
Meanwhile, two brothers were sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted on federal gambling charges in Knoxville, Tenn., involving a cockfighting ring. In Harrisonburg, Va., two men charged with money-laundering conspiracy involving cockfighting reached plea agreements, while two others in the case are scheduled for trial next month.
"In Hawaii," said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo Jr., "whenever you see cockfighting and gambling, organized crime is not far behind." He said he expects to "re-establish contact with the police and multiple agencies to deal with cockfighting or dog-fighting in this state."
Last year's Legislature belatedly made dog-fighting a felony. Cockfighting remains a misdemeanor in 15 states, and a bill that would make it a felony in Hawaii appears to have been abandoned in the lawmakers' current session.
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