NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York man and woman were being arraigned on Sunday on felony animal fighting charges following a weekend raid of a cockfight that resulted in the arrest of 33 people, authorities said.
In part of an ongoing investigation, police broke up the cockfight in the basement of a house in Central Islip, N.Y., on Saturday night, authorities said.
They arrested 31 spectators and two alleged ringleaders, Rosa Medero, 37, and Pablo Lopez, 34, who were charged with felony counts of prohibition of animal fighting.
Some three dozen roosters were rescued from the basement, where authorities said they found equipment used to prepare the roosters for fighting, a fighting ring, scales and spectator seating.
“This was a barbaric act of animal cruelty,” said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which joined in the raid.
He characterized it as “a major bust,” saying: “We don’t take this lightly.”
The spectators were arrested on animal fighting violations, issued appearance tickets and released.
The accused ringleaders faced arraignment in Suffolk County District Court on Sunday.
Gross said while cockfights were once often staged in outdoor sheds or fenced-in areas, many have since gone “underground,” such as this one in a suburban residence.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Tim Gaynor)