Hundreds face judge after cockfighting bust - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Hundreds face judge after cockfighting bust

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Southwest Miami-Dade, Fla. (WSVN) -- About 200 people faced a judge on Friday for their involvement in an illegal cockfighting bust.

While some people were paper arrested, others with more serious charges were arrested and brought to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

Family members of those arrested could be seen waiting for their loved ones outside of the correctional center. Many of them seen laughing, drinking coffee and not taking the charges very seriously, despite the fact that the charges are felonies.

Some of the people arrested said they do not feel that cockfighting is a crime. Many said they see cockfighting as more of a cultural activity that happens to be illegal in the U.S., but legal in the countries that they are from, especially Cuba. "It's a culture since we are, you know, from ... small childs," Jorge Lima said as he walked out of the Correctional Center Friday.

Not many of those arrested wanted to speak to Channel 7 News, but Lima spoke out about his arrest. "I don't think it's a crime," said Lima. "I was on the radio many times, trying to find a change for the law, but they refuse absolutely."

The cockfighting bust occurred Thursday around 4:30 p.m. Miami-Dade Police responded to a tip they received several weeks ago and conducted an investigation. Police came upon the cockfighting when they arrived at the three-acre property in the Redlands where the cockfighting was taking place. "It's like a big party, everybody knows everybody. You know, we were fighting for years and years and years," said Lima.

Upon their arrival, police arrested about 200 people. Most of the people were charged with animal fighting, but some were charged with drug and weapon possession. Officials also discovered dozens of wounded and dead roosters.

Lima said he uses spears rather than blades to cause minimal injury. He also said the fights are not always to the death, explaining the rooster loses after it has been down for a minute.

The law still sees the fights as a crime, however. "They're felonies," said Ana Blanco of Ana Bail Bonds.

Blanco posted bond for 25 of those arrested, including Francisco Ruiz Arias, who, according to police, is the alleged ringleader of the cockfighting. He faces the most charges out of those who were arrested, which include promoting the cockfighting and owning the equipment used in the cockfighting activity.

"He was the highest bond that I posted, which was $30,000," said Blanco of Arias' bond.

Adriana Garcia-Garcia, 50, was also among those arrested. She bonded out of court Friday morning. She faces animal fighting charges as well as charges related to the sale of cocaine and the sale of alcohol without a license at the event.

Police also confiscated thousands of dollars that were used to place bets.

When asked if he thought that cockfighting was cruel to animals, Lima said, "I think you can find more cruelty when you breed them in a line and condemn them for 30 days of life and kill them for eating."

Lima feels that he and others were jailed unjustly. He does not think that what he was doing was criminal. Lima said it's all about culture. "I have a lot of chickens. When they fight, I heal them, and they still with me," he said.

The bond process is expected to last several more hours, some of those still in jail may have to spend the night and wait until Saturday to be released.


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