Police arrested hundreds of people Thursday in connection with a south Florida cockfighting ring.
Detectives said they uncovered a large cockfighting operation in progress when they executed a search warrant in southwest Miami-Dade, " target="_blank">reported WFOR-TV.
“There was an active fight between two roosters going on, we found several roosters dead, and all of the people on the scene actually participating in the rooster fighting,” said Major Ariel Artime, of Miami-Dade police.
Police detained about 200 people who they said were betting on the fights at the time of the bust.
They said most of them would be arrested and charged, including the alleged ringleader of the operation.
Police said they found up to 50 caged roosters, although many of them were already dead, and a full-scale fighting ring set up inside an illegally built structure on the property in the 25400 block of SW 212 Avenue.
Officers also said they seized thousands of dollars, drugs, and firearms.
“It’s significant not only because of the animal cruelty that’s taking place here, but also because of all the additional illicit activities that go on while these things take place, such as the sale of alcohol, illegal narcotics, firearms,” Artime said. “When you have these type of folks who are armed and coming around here with narcotics, it’s a perfect recipe for trouble.”
The property owner, identified in county records as Alejandro Queupumil, must properly care for the birds until trial under a court under.
Cockfighting has emerged as a campaign issue in the U.S. Senate primary race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin.
Bevin spoke last month in a rally organized by proponents of legalized cockfighting, although the candidate claims he thought the event was more broadly supportive of states’ rights.
However, hidden camera video recorded by WAVE-TV appears to contradict those claims.
Cockfighting enthusiasts threatened to “destroy” McConnell in February over his support for the federal farm bill, which sets penalties for attending a cockfight or dog fight.
Cockfighting is currently illegal in all 50 states and carries felony penalties in 41, including Florida.
Watch this video report posted online by WFOR-TV: