Ventura County sheriff’s deputies broke up a suspected cockfighting operation at a ranch in Fillmore on Sunday morning, arresting nine people and seizing 22 roosters.
Those arrested were from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and ranged in age from 21 to 60. All are suspected of transporting fighting cocks, and two are also suspected of possessing cockfighting implements.
About 9:15 a.m., sheriff’s deputies were tipped off by an anonymous caller to a cockfight at 3477 Sycamore Road, said Deputy Jerry Peterson.
Cockfights are an ongoing problem at the address, according to the caller.
A Sheriff’s Department helicopter made a pass over the area and located the group in an orchard. The men fled on foot and in vehicles, but deputies were able to stop several vehicles before they got away.
Deputies found fighting cocks in three of the vehicles, and also confiscated several implements used in the deadly sport, including steel fighting spurs, Deputy Steve Mayorga said.
“The spurs are attached to the rooster’s legs and used to stab or seriously injure the opposing bird,” Mayorga said.
Deputies also found a roll of tickets, a cockfighting schedule and more than $1,100 in cash, Mayorga said.
The birds were turned over to the county Animal Regulation Department. Mayorga said no dead birds were found at the ranch. “These birds were pretty aggressive,” he said.
Authorities identified the suspects arrested as Jose Ramon Flores, 45, and Francisco Zepeda Guerrero, 42, both of Santa Ynez; Mario Ramos, 29, of Solvang; Gregorio Lopez Rico, 47, of Santa Maria; Roberto Buenrostro, 46, and Pablo Buenrostro, 21, both of Guadalupe.
Also arrested were Paul Andrew Castellanos, 34, of Nipomo; and Margarito Guervera Sosa, 60, and David Sosa, 24, both of Arroyo Grande.
Rico and Margarito Sosa were booked on an additional count of suspicion of possessing cockfighting implements, according to Peterson.
All of the suspects were cited and released.