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Angry Birds: Cockfighting alive and kicking across US

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  • Cockfighting makes for strange bedfellows: Chicken farmer kings, Romanian princesses, derbies in Queens, and Angry Birds.

Chicken farmer kings, Romanian princesses, derbies in Queens, and Angry Birds — the odd world of cockfighting makes for strange bedfellows.

The poultry at CMC Plattikil farm are apparently of a special breed. When police raided Plattikil on Feb. 8-9, they found a cockfighting operation that “hid thousands of makeshift cages within the center of the property to avoid detection by neighbors and law enforcement,” according to the Daily Freeman.

The 90-acre New York farm had been unregistered since 2010, and despite a conventional façade, was allegedly serving as a cockfighting boardinghouse for over 3,000 birds from several states, and farm manager Manuel Cruz, 60, was arrested in the raid. The sweep, tagged as “Operation Angry Birds” by police, also hit a cockfight in session in Queens and a pet store in Brooklyn for a total of 70 people taken into custody and 9 felony arrests.

In New York, cockfighting convictions bring a max penalty of four years and a $25,000 fine, but just being in attendance at a fight (although a misdemeanor) can merit a one-year sentence and a $1,000 penalty. Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 U.S. states, but the nine men facing felony charges in New York will wish they had carried on in another state — maybe Alabama or Mississippi — where penalties are mild.

 

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Cockfights often feature an admission charge and then a ton of cash on the barrelhead as wads are wagered for a fight that may last a minute or 20. The roosters, feathers thinned to remove dense cover and sometimes juiced on drugs, have their natural spurs clipped and are fitted with gaffs (artificial spurs) or knives that can slice and puncture to gruesome effect. The roosters are dropped in a tight space or pen and a collision of clawed feet, often airborne, ends with deep wounds — punctured organs and slashes. The fights don’t necessarily take place at a seedy dive or back-alley basement. In 2011, police busted a backyard cockfight in Texas and found a children’s waterslide birthday party taking place in tandem. From the NY Daily News: “Two people were arrested at the scene while others ran off or drove away shortly after the police showed up … Some of the suspects sped off so quickly, they crashed into each other. At least one driver plowed through a wooden fence on the property.”

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