Friday, June 23, 2017

2 Charged with Trying to Steal Cockfighting Birds

From the NY Attorney General's office:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said two people have been arrested for allegedly breaking into and attempting to steal about 50 chickens from a barn in Poland, Herkimer County.

The chickens had previously been rescued as part of the Attorney General’s “Operation Bloodsport” -- a five-month investigation into an alleged network of cockfighting in the Mohawk Valley that resulted in 41 arrests, and the seizure of gamecocks, heroin, guns and cash.

“It’s cruel, dangerous, and unlawful to torture animals for entertainment – and even more egregious to break in and try to steal those animals after their rescue,” said Schneiderman. “Poultry pilferers who try to fly the coop with our evidence will be brought to justice.”

Juan Jose Lucca Vega, 41, and Wanda Santos, 42, both of Utica, were arrested Tuesday evening and charged with a felony county of burglary and a count of training an animal for animal fighting for amusement. 

Vega and Santos are alleged to have broken into a Herkimer barn Tuesday night, where the Attorney General’s Office and the Herkimer County Humane Society had moved the chickens following their rescue last weekend. 

Prosecutors allege Vega and Santos broke padlocks authorities had installed on the barn doors and attempted to remove about 50 chickens, which were being treated for injuries sustained during cockfighting and are considered evidence in the case. 

Vega and Santos were each arraigned in theNewport Town Court and sent to the Herkimer County Jail. 

Their relationship to the other 41 individuals arrested as part of Operation Bloodsport is under investigation.

As announced earlier this week, in "Operation Bloodsport" state and local law enforcement agents – led by the New York State Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York State Police – concluded a five-month investigation into a cockfighting network that was operating prohibited cockfights at a landscaping business in Herkimer County. 

The operation drew participants from numerous New York counties including Bronx, Erie, Herkimer, Monroe, New York, Oneida, Onondaga and Queens. 

The investigation resulted in the arrests of 41 individuals on June 17th for allegedly operating an illegal cockfighting operation in the town of Frankfort. Police seized nearly 200 gamecocks that were turned over to the Herkimer County Humane Society. 

A subsequent search of an adjacent barn resulted in the discovery of a game bird breeding and training facility. Police also seized bird-fighting paraphernalia, such as spurs or razors, which are attached to a bird’s talons to increase the carnage of the fight. 

In addition, heroin, several handguns, and over $68,000 in cash were seized. This investigation is part of  Schneiderman's ongoing efforts to combat animal cruelty and illegal animal fighting across New York state through his Animal Protection Initiative.

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