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Santa Barbara deputies break up alleged cockfighting ring

Lee Baca

Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies seized 19 roosters and detained four people, including an 85-year-old man, over the weekend after discovering an alleged cockfighting ring, authorities said Tuesday.

About 11 a.m. Sunday, deputies responded to complaints about a group of cars parked on private land near the Santa Maria Airport, said Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

When the deputies arrived at the wooded area, Hoover said, they found about 20 cars parked in a field and could hear roosters.

As they approached, as many as 30 people fled the scene.

Upon further investigation, sheriff’s deputies and county animal control officers found 19 roosters as well as twine, tape, and metal spurs attached to the animals during fights, among other items consistent with gambling and rooster fighting, Hoover said.

Four people were detained by deputies. Cipriano Rodriguez, 77, of Santa Barbara, and Armando Villa, 32, of Santa Ynez, were cited for possession of fighting birds and for trespassing. Two others -- Jose Alvarez, 85, of Santa Maria, and Carlos Villa, 55, of Buellton -- were issued citations for trespassing.

All four were released after being cited.

The roosters were turned over to animal control. Two had to be euthanized due to their injuries, Hoover said.

The case has been forwarded to the Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office for prosecution.

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