Press Release

Animal Wellness Organizations Highlight $2,500 Reward for Tips on Cockfighting, After Two Major Busts This Weekend

More enforcement, more arrests for barbaric cockfighting activities signal the prevalence of this animal cruelty problem, bound up with other crimes

Austin, TX — According to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, 200 roosters, along with drugs and guns, were seized during a cockfighting ring bust on Saturday that led to arrests and citations for 50 people.  In Goliad County, in a separate enforcement action, there were 63 people arrested for cockfighting. 

At the Bexar County operation, some of the roosters were found in cages with injuries from gaffs, which are razor-sharp blades tied to the legs of gamecocks to inflict maximum injury to their opponents.

News stories say deputies “were able to identify Paul Morales as the renter of the property and arrested him for allegedly running the operation. Fifty people were reportedly interviewed by investigators and cited with a class C misdemeanor for attending the event.”

The Sheriff’s Office said they believe more people would’ve showed up if they didn’t conduct the bust so early, but “they wanted to get there before anymore roosters could get hurt.”

The rescued birds were reportedly taken to an undisclosed location for tests and an ultimate determination on what to do with them.

Cockfighting is Out of Control in Texas

The raid is just one in a spate of recent ones in the Lone Star State. Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, issued this statement:

“Two major busts of cockfighting — from Bexar County to Goliad County — remind us that cockfighting is persistent and prevalent in the state. Law enforcement is doing a stellar job at busting these operations, but they need help from citizens who can inform them of these illegal fighting rings.  That’s why Animal Wellness Action is underscoring that it will pay $2,500 in reward monies for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in these crimes of violence against animals.”

Pacelle was referring to several recent busts and other related activities in Texas:

  • Potter County, where over 160 roosters were seized and according to the sheriff, “many” participants were “unlawfully in the United States.” 
  • San Jacinto, with sheriff noting suspects were “expected to face multiple felony charges, ranging from animal cruelty, cockfighting, illegal gambling, unlawful weapon possession, organized crime, and federal firearm possession by illegal immigrants.” 
  • Cherokee County, where two dozen arrested on similar charges.  
  • Lynn County, where the sheriff brought felony charges “because of organized criminal activity.”
  • Laredo, where U.S. Customs and Border Control officers “made an unusual discovery, roosters deeply hidden within passenger vehicles.” 

Cockfighting: A Host of Ills

Not only is cockfighting an unnecessary bloodsport predicated on violence to animals, it brings along with it dangers to individuals, other animals, and even the U.S. economy. 

Fighting animals smuggled into the United States threaten its commercial poultry industry. Ten of 15 outbreaks of virulent Newcastle Disease in the United States are directly tied to smuggled fighting roosters from Mexico, with just three outbreaks costing taxpayers $1 billion. Moreover, public health officials are increasingly worried about a zoonotic “spillover” of the disease from birds to other mammals, including humans, with potentially nightmarish consequences.

Already, the Centers for Disease Control issued this news: “On April 1, 2024, Texas reported a human infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza … after confirmation by CDC. This is the first time this virus has been found in a cow and the second human case of H5N1 bird flu reported in the United States.”

Appurtenant crime should also spur officials and legislators to take action. In late January 2024, for example, there were 14 wounded and six murdered, including a 16-year-old from eastern Washington, at a cockfighting derby in Guerrero. Months before, also in Mexico, 20 people were massacred at a cockfight, including a Chicago woman. The victim’s 16-year-old younger sister was critically wounded.

“We know that large-scale cockfighting ‘derbies’ in the United States frequently if not consistently mean that illegal drugs will be brought in for sale and that local hotel rooms will be occupied by prostitutes, their pimps, and other malefactors in organized crime.”

Reward for Information

To help combat cockfighting as well as dogfighting — also common in Texas — Animal Wellness Action has launched a new reward program that offers cash compensation not only for information that leads to arrests and convictions, but also for tips on the location of planned or occurring cockfights in the state. The organization will provide $2,500 to any individual who provides tips to us or law enforcement that results in arrests in Texas for illegal cockfighting under state or federal law. Amounts for other information will vary based on the credibility and timeliness of the tips.

Tipsters may contact

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter