Police file additional charges against cockfighting suspects

Police have charged several more alleged participants with felonies following a cockfighting match Saturday at Willamette Egg Farms in Eagle Point.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies and the Oregon State Police were called to the farm along Highway 62 late Saturday morning for a report of trespassing on the property, when deputies discovered a large cockfighting event was taking place, said Andrea Carlson, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department.

"Cockfighting is illegal in Oregon," Carlson said. "But it's still happening. It seems every year we have some big (cockfighting) ring that gets busted."

Leonel Sanchez, 26, an employee at the egg farm, was charged with trespassing and participating in cockfighting. Sanchez is believed to have unlocked the gates and was hosting the event, Carlson said.

The cockfight location included a covered fighting arena with lights powered by a generator.

There also was a makeshift bar where alcohol was being sold.

One of the participants told police an admission fee of $25 per person was charged just to watch the event. Entry fees per rooster were $500, Carlson said.

At least one severely injured rooster was found discarded in an adjacent field. Approximately 35 roosters were seized. Deputies found complete sets of razors that are fastened to the roosters' legs to increase their fighting effectiveness.

The razors inflict severe damage during a fight, she said.

"We've had several cases like this. It's sad. It's really sad to see what happens to the animals," Carlson said, adding roosters often are given chemical stimulants to increase their aggression.

Up to 30 people ran from the property when police arrived, she said. Nine alleged participants were charged with second-degree trespassing and participating in cockfighting. Participating in cockfighting is a class C felony.

Among those cited and released were Rafael Ramirez, 18, of Medford; Alberto Martinez Jr., 21, of Phoenix; Alberto Martinez Sr., 57, of Phoenix; Felipe Reyes Garza, 78, of Medford; Pedro Garcia Jr., 33, of Dorris, Calif.; Victor Ulloa, 29, of Klamath Falls; and Raudel Rubalcaba, 63 of Medford, Carlson said.

Roosters seized in cockfighting rings often are not able to be rehabilitated and are humanely destroyed, Carlson said. But these roosters were lucky — they have been relinquished to a chicken farmer in Klamath Falls, she said.

"He's going to take care of the roosters," Carlson said.

The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution. The investigation continues, she said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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