Deputies: 60 roosters ‘physically altered,’ held captive in Granger cockfighting ring
GRANGER, Wash. — A routine check on a possible code violation took a turn Tuesday when a Yakima County code enforcement officer stumbled upon a cockfighting ring in Granger.
Code enforcement officials said they’d noticed a makeshift tarp structure at a property near Beam Road and Hudson Road that went against county code; after a closer look, they had reason to believe it housed a cockfighting ring.
Yakima County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene just before 10:30 a.m; the landowner gave them the go-ahead to search further, adding that the structure had been built on the property without their permission, court documents said.
Deputies said they found about sixty roosters in cages and a large wooden ring similar to those used in animal fighting.
Investigators spoke to 36-year-old Eleuterio Prieto, Jr., who told them he’d been living in a trailer on the property with another man for about three days, according to court documents.
While the trailer was located about 10 feet from the tarp structure, deputies said Prieto initially denied having any knowledge of or involvement with the animal fighting.
Deputies said the roosters had been ‘physically altered’ for fighting, including having the combs on the top of their heads removed. According to the ASPCA, this is done so that other roosters don’t tear it off in a fight.
Additionally, deputies said the spurs on the side of the roosters’ legs had been cut off, which allows sharp, dagger-like attachments weapons called ‘gaffs’ to be attached to their legs where the spurs used to be, according to the ASPCA.
“Once in the ring, roosters often wear knives …that are sharp enough to puncture a lung, pierce an eye or break bones in order to inflict maximum injury,” the ASPCA website states.
Deputies said they found gaffs in the structure and inside the nearby trailer, along with vitamins, supplements, ledgers and betting charts.
Prieto was arrested on suspicion of animal fighting. In a later interview, Prieto reportedly told deputies he did know about the fighting ring.
“Eleuterio stated that if he would have known we were coming, he would have stashed it way better,” deputies said in court documents.
Deputies said the roosters were disposed of by the landowner.
Prieto’s criminal record includes seven felony convictions and four gross misdemeanors. He’s being held in the Yakima County jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
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