Romanian princess indicted in northwestern U.S. cockfighting ring
A woman who is reportedly a princess in Romania’s royal family was indicted along with her husband in Oregon when police broke up an illegal cockfighting ring. According to the Los Angeles Times, the couple were hosting cockfighting “derbies” at their ranch, say federal prosecutors.
The U.S. attorney’s office told the Times that a total of 18 people in Washington and Oregon were rounded up as part of the operation, including Irina Walker, 60, and her husband, John Wesley Walker, 67. The Oregonian reported that John W. Walker is a former sheriff’s deputy and that the group faces charges ranging from conspiracy to violate the federal Animal Welfare Act to illegal gambling.
Irina Walker is the middle daughter of Romania’s King Michael I and Queen Anne. She is fifth in line for the throne of that country. She was born in Switzerland. King Michael abdicated the throne in 1947, but the family still owns a quartet of castles in the former Soviet-occupied country.
The indictment alleges that the Walkers would hold nights of multiple fights at their ranch with dozens of roosters. The animals were typically armed with “knives, gaffs and other cutting instruments attached to their legs, fighting to the death,” said the Oregonian.
U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, chief federal prosecutor for the state of Oregon said, “Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts.” She called the Walkers’ operation a “fairly large-scale cockfighting venture.”
The Walkers’ neighbors were also arrested for their participation in the fights, including David Sanchez, 29, and Aurelia Garcia Mendoza, 33, as well as Mario “El Cuba” Perez, 62, and Jose Luis Virgen Ramirez, 48 and ten other men who were apparently spectators.
Prosecutors say that the farm where the fights took place, located near Irrigon, OR, is subject to federal forfeiture because it was used for a criminal enterprise. The L.A. Times said that if they are convicted on all counts, Irina and John Walker could each face years of prison time and millions of dollars in fines.
[image of street cockfight via Shutterstock.com]