Posted on: November 30, 2022, 07:13h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2022, 01:13h.

Police in Southern Spain’s Andalusia recently broke up a handful of cockfights where betting was allowed. Cockfighting was once a popular activity in the region, but was banned years ago, except in certain situations. Three people will stand trial for their involvement, and all could end up behind bars.

Two roosters face off in a cockfighting match. Illegal fights in Spain could land three people in prison. (Image: Bangalore Mirror)

The Jaen Environment Prosecutor’s Office has requested sentences ranging from one year to 18 months for the three alleged perpetrators of cockfighting arenas. Police dismantled them this past March. The arenas were active in Jaen, Mengíbar, and in the small town of Hornachuelos.

The three defendants face charges of animal abuse for the roles they played. Spain bans cockfighting everywhere, except in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, where some fights are permitted for “breeding selection.” Those, however, require permits, and no betting can take place.

No Longer a Welcome Pastime

In March, agents of Spain’s National Police, together with officers from the local police force, launched Gladiator to break up animal abuse and organized crime. The operation resulted in the arrest of 57 people, the recovery of 206 fighting cocks, and the seizure of €20,000 (US$20,706) in cash from illegal bets.

Law enforcement also confiscated training material on how to conduct cockfights. In addition, they found a number of drugs and surgical elements used to dope the animals and enhance their performance.

The investigation began five months earlier, when in November 2021, police received a tip that the illegal matches were taking place. The fights were solely for the purpose of sports betting, and prosecutors determined that the organizers used blades or other sharp elements to mutilate the combs, ears, and chins of the roosters to increase their desire to fight.

The perpetrators set up the camouflaged fights in different locations in order to try to avoid detection. In appearance, they were just houses. However, they were equipped with hidden parking areas for vehicles and several exits that led to wooded areas, so that if a raid occurred, the attendees could flee.

As the investigation progressed, police secured a search warrant to enter the three properties under surveillance. Using specialized equipment, undercover agents attended a fight and recorded the event. They also captured the death of one of the animals.

Taking Down the House

With enough evidence gathered, the agents raided a house in Jaen and arrested 56 people, including seven minors. They recovered 47 roosters that were prepared to fight, as well as drugs and doping substances. In the second location, police recovered six roosters, although no fight was taking place that day.

The last of the searches took place in the small town of Hornachuelos. That led to the arrest of the third alleged organizer. Police found 153 roosters, 30 hens, and 50 young chicks, apparently being raised to become fighters.

There was also material that is usually used for cockfighting, such as oral and injectable drugs, vitamins, machinery for the physical training of roosters, and timers to time the fights. Supposedly, this property was used as a breeding farm for the animals.

The defendants made a court appearance this week to respond to the allegations. The date of their trial is not yet on the calendar.

Despite a ban, cockfights continue to occur in various parts of Spain. The federal government banned the bouts in 1991, but gave an exception to Andalusia because of its “cultural heritage and a history of cockfighting in the region.”

Later, the autonomous community, through its own law, prohibited all forms of cockfighting. It only allows them under controlled situations for purposes of breeding for exportation.