SPLENDORA, Texas – Authorities seized more than 150 hens and roosters and arrested 25 people for immigration violations during a raid on a suspected cockfighting operation northeast of Houston.
A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was tipped to the cockfight Sunday night when he pulled over a suspected drunken driver who said he had just been at the event.
Authorities responding to the 10-acre property in Montgomery County found more than 100 parked cars and a crowd of people watching cockfights, said Deputy Don Smith, a livestock officer with the Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable's Office.
Spectators scattered into the surrounding woods or to their cars, but not all escaped.
DPS officials wrote 50 citations for violations such as observing the cockfighting, a misdemeanor, spokeswoman Tela Mange said.
Luisa Deason, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agency officials arrested 25 people suspected of being in the country illegally. Deportation proceedings had begun for the 24 Mexicans and one Filipino, she said.
Constable Deputy Dwayne Morrow said admission tickets, alcohol, food and cockfighting supplies were sold at the event.
A makeshift building on the property housed a cockfighting ring. Trash barrels nearby were filled with dead roosters injured from fighting.
Morrow said authorities also found a trailer with incubators and eggs and another building used for breeding.
"It's an all-in-one stop," Morrow said. "This is a pretty good size operation."
The Houston SPCA helped officials collect about 70 of the birds on Monday after a seizure warrant was obtained.
Heidi Brasher, director of community outreach for SPCA, said the group would shelter the birds — some of which were injured with stab wounds — until a hearing determines their custody.
Smith said no charges have been filed yet against the property owner, but he must appear in court March 20 to claim the animals.
Cockfighting is illegal in Texas, although breeding and selling gamecocks is legal.