More details about an alleged cockfighting operation have emerged, including the presence of trophies for champion birds and campers set up with chicken pens.
Area law enforcement agencies raided the barn and glass-enclosed fighting ring last weekend, arresting 32 people. A schedule found at the site, located about a mile and a half in the woods, indicated fights scheduled for about a year, with fights about every two weeks.
Amenities at the site, adjacent to the area where mud-bogging competitions were held near Norman Park, included a cooking area and room to set up the trailers. At the latter, a menu in Spanish advertised menudo, frijoles and tacos.
Wallace Hurst, 57, 4391 U.S. Hwy. 319 N., has been accused of operating the July 7 event at which spectators reportedly paid a $20 admission fee and $100 fee for each rooster entered for fighting. He was charged with commercial gambling and violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, and misdemeanor counts of keeping a place of gambling and cruelty to animals.
The other 31, including a woman who reportedly cooked and operated the concession stand, all face charges of parties to animal cruelty. Most of the spectators were from out of Colquitt County, with some traveling as far as from Douglas, Ga.
“It had been going on for a while,” Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office investigator Shannon Hart said. “That just didn’t happen overnight.”
The total amount of money seized had not been tallied as of Friday, but more than 40 roosters were seized, with six dead birds found at the site. The entry fees alone for 50 birds would have been $10,000, with the entry fees for 30 spectators adding another $600.
Law enforcement officers also seized a shotgun and pistol, Hart said.
As a reporter got out of the car this week at the Humane Society of Colquitt County, a chorus of crows from roosters could be heard coming from the shelter.
Three of the birds died of injuries after being brought to the facility Saturday, but about 40 remained alive, said agency Director Don Flowers.
Flowers said he has heard of successful rehabilitation of fighting chickens, but does not know what the eventual fate will be for the birds housed there.
“We don’t really deal with chickens, just cats and dogs, but we thought we ought to do this,” he said of taking the birds in. “We’re not really sure what’s going to happen to them until we hear from the investigators. Ideally, I’d like to see them go to farms.”