Cockfighting case ends in 60-day jail term
The sentencing of a Louisiana man yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Hawaii for smuggling cockfighting gaffs was the first case in the nation to be prosecuted under the new Animal Fighting Prohibition Act, the Hawaiian Humane Society announced.
"This case truly is a landmark case, and we are pleased that Hawaii's law enforcement officials will finally have the tool needed to bring an end to this cruel and vicious blood sport," said Pamela Burns, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaiian Humane Society, in a written statement. "We commend Hawaii's law enforcement officials, especially U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo, for his vigilance in pursuing this case to the fullest extent possible under the law."
Federal Judge David Ezra sentenced Joseph Toralba to 60 days in jail and one year of supervised release.
Customs officials at Honolulu Airport caught Toralba with 263 cockfighting gaffs earlier this year while he was en route home to Louisiana from the Philippines.
The gaffs are knifelike instruments attached to the legs of fighting cocks. The trafficking of these and other animal fighting instruments is now prohibited between states and between the United States and other countries. According to his pre-sentencing report, Toralba could have been sentenced to up to six months in prison.
Under the new law, transportation of any animal-fighting instrument is a three-year felony-level offense.
"We hope that this case will send a clear message to Hawaii's animal fighting community that the times have changed and the community will no longer stand for these illegal and heinous activities," Kubo said.