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Houston police break up cockfight, arrest 24

Erin Mulvane, Houston Chronicle
Updated 8:07 pm, Monday, February 11, 2013
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Two dozen men were arrested after officers uncovered a cockfighting operation in southeast Houston, investigators said.

Houston police officers on Sunday afternoon found at least two injured roosters fighting each other in a wood building in the 10900 block of Martindale Road, near Airport and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Officers, who responded to a disturbance call at 3:25 p.m., also found other roosters and chickens, some dead, according to the Houston Police Department.

People were running in different directions trying to evade officers, authorities said.

Charges were pending against the 24 men who were in custody, as detectives in the Houston Police Department's Major Offenders Unit interviewed them and tried to glean who was in charge and the roles of the other suspects.

"Depending upon their roles, they could face charges ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony," said HPD spokesman John Cannon.

Cockfighting has been illegal in Texas since 1907 and is outlawed in all 50 states. In 2011, state lawmakers passed a measure that closed loopholes and created penalties for owning a facility where a fight takes place, possessing the birds with the intent to fight, owning equipment and attending a fight.

Before the law was passed, lawmakers said few were convicted in Harris County, although dozens of charges were filed after cockfighting busts in the area.

Under state law, those making money off a cockfight would receive a felony charge. Offenders who own property used for cockfighting, buy or sell cockfighting equipment or own a rooster with intent for it to fight could result in a Class A misdemeanor. The first offense for attending a fight is a Class C misdemeanor.