Police bust cockfighting operation in Clovis

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

Police said the scene of an illegal cockfighting event in Clovis on Saturday night was littered with about 100 dead birds and many more injured and maimed.

“It was pretty alarming and disturbing,” State Police Capt. Jimmy Glascock said Monday.

Clovis Animal Control took custody of 53 birds, Glascock said.

Animal Control Officer Martin Martinez said the birds were euthanized Sunday morning.

“They’re not social animals,” he said. “They were big, pretty birds, but they are aggressive.”

Carcasses of birds were found in barrels and around a barn used to house the event, Glascock said.

Glascock said the cockfighting ring is the only one he’s aware of in the area in recent years, adding, “I wouldn’t want to dismiss the notion there may be others.”

A smaller ring was busted Sunday night in Espanola by state police, he said.

Cockfighting has been illegal in New Mexico since 2007 by act of the Legislature.

Officers from three local agencies descended on a barn at 3100 West Brady Ave. after undercover officers, responding to a tip, infiltrated the cockfight and confirmed its existence.

Glascock said about 100 people were gathered for the fights.

Some tried to run away from the scene, discarding suspected illegal drugs on the floor, Glascock said, noting officers blocked the exits and began detaining people.

Misdemeanor citations for unlawful dog and or cockfighting were issued to 90 individuals who were then released, he said.

Four men — Property owner Guillermo Viveros-Garcia, 43, Asuncion Mercado, 50, Jesus Figueroa, 40, and Francisco Lopez, 46 — were arrested on felony charges related to cockfighting.

The men remain in jail in lieu of bond.

Bond was set at $5,000 each for Viveros-Garcia and Mercado, $10,000 for Lopez and Figueroa is being held on $15,000 bond but is not eligible for release due to a hold by immigration authorities, jail officials said.

Glascock said the event was large in scale and showed a high degree of organization. However, he said evidence indicates whatever betting took place was done between individuals and was not organized.

He said ledgers were found documenting the weights and classes of birds and recording the winners of each match.

Glascock said specially designed cages and spurs worn by birds in cockfighting were also confiscated.

Police seized about six grams of cocaine, seven grams of marijuana and some prescription medication.

Glascock said no drug charges were filed because they were not found in the possession of suspects.