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11 held after raid of high-stakes California cockfighting ring

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Nearly a dozen people were detained and several roosters were rescued after authorities busted a weekend cockfighting tournament at a California farm where spectators bet thousands of dollars, officials said. 

Officers acting on an anonymous tip responded Sunday to the property near Santa Maria and found as many as 50 people gathered around a large ring with a cockfight in progress, said Kelly Hoover with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. 

Two dead roosters discovered during a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department raid of a cockfighting ring on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. CBS Los Angeles

The spectators scattered but authorities managed to detain 11 people on suspicion of participating in an illegal cockfight and resisting or delaying a peace officer, Hoover said. Several of those detained were also cited for possession of cockfighting paraphernalia including blades and suture kits, she said. 

A search of the farm turned up six dead roosters, as many as 20 live roosters in cages, and two injured roosters, officials said. Santa Barbara County Animal Services took possession of all the birds. The injured roosters will be euthanized. 

An initial investigation found the cockfight was part of a tournament that attracted spectators from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties, Hoover said. Some of the bets placed were as high as $12,000, she said. 

Officials praised the tipster who first alerted authorities. 

“Because of this anonymous tip we were able to stop this horrific cruelty to animals and apprehend some of those responsible,” said sheriff’s Detective John McCarthy said. 

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