DAYTON, Texas -- Police busted a cockfighting ring in Texas that was using a children's party as its front, officials said Sunday.
Acting on an anonymous tip, deputies from the Liberty County Sheriff's Office showed up at a property in Dayton, Texas -- about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Houston -- to investigate a report of a cockfighting operation Saturday.
When they arrived, the officers discovered a children's party underway, complete with a waterslide and a picnic table.
But suspects began to emerge from behind the innocent revelry, fleeing to their vehicles and on foot into the tree line, upon seeing the deputies.
Several suspects sped away in their cars, some even crashing into one another and driving through a wooden fence, police said.
As the children stood by the waterslide, crying, police officers discovered a grisly scene of dead and dying fowl -- some suffering severe blood loss and cuts. The birds were found just feet from where the children were playing, police said.
Live fowl were found pinned in cages throughout the entire property, some still armed with deadly steel blades attached to their beaks.
Inside a small barn, officers discovered a fighting ring, complete with scales, tags, entry slips and other evidence of cockfights.
Officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) responded to the scene and recovered 48 live birds -- many valued in excess of $1,000 each -- and also removed a horse and two dogs in poor condition from the property.
Officers arrested Jose Lara and Irasema Ramirez at the scene for failing to identify and interfering with a law enforcement investigation. Police said additional charges and more arrests could be expected as the investigation continues.