Press Release

This Past Weekend, Carter County Sheriff Busts Second Cockfight Within a Year, After Being Tipped by Animal Protection Groups

While a single arrest has been made so far, the whole cast of characters must be apprehended to deter rampant cockfighting in the Sooner State.

Carter County, OK — Acting on a tip from Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) and Animal Wellness Action — with personnel on the scene of the crime this weekend — Carter County Sheriff’s Office busted a cockfight Saturday evening, making that the second bust in the county since summer 2023. Only one individual has been arrested so far. The event last year led to seven arrests, but miniscule penalties after the cockfighters pleaded guilty in exchange for nominal penalties.

“It’s time to shutter the cockfighting pits and animal trafficking and rid Oklahoma of this crime wave,” said cruelty investigator Steve Hindi of SHARK. “But token arrests and timid prosecutions are not enough to deter organized criminals who make tens of thousands of dollars gambling on fights and trafficking fighting birds.”

On Saturday, deputies witnessed numerous vehicles fleeing the scene through a wooded area outside the city limits, engaged in a high-speed highway pursuit with Oklahoma Highway Patrol helping with a felony stop, followed by one arrest. At least 100 fighting birds were reported at the fighting venue and remain on site. SHARK and Animal Wellness Action believe the birds should be seized, given that it is a felony to possess animals for fighting under Oklahoma law.

“If you have a cockfight on your property — and we know that’s exactly what occurred last Saturday — then the roosters on that property were undoubtedly there for cockfights,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “If it looks and sounds like a duck, it’s a duck. Seize the live contraband and don’t let the owners allow the birds to be hacked to death in a fighting pit a couple of weekends from now in Oklahoma or Texas or Mexico.”

Gustavo Barcenas of Gainesville, Texas, was arrested, but Carter County District Attorney’s Office released him on $1,000 bond and planned to reduce his felony charge of “eluding” an officer to a misdemeanor charge. The case is still under investigation, and the landowner could be charged by the end of the week.

“We’re glad to see that Carter County Sheriff’s Office deputies are doing an excellent job busting criminal cockfighting,” said Kevin Chambers, Oklahoma state director for Animal Wellness Action. “But it’s disappointing to see these felony charges being summarily lowered to modest fines. That kind of downgrading of penalties only emboldens cockfighters to keep flouting the rule of law. It’s just a cost of doing business for them, just like meager penalties are no deterrent to narcotics traffickers who make big money breaking the law.

Cockfighting-related Felony Charges Dismissed for Chance Campo and Five Others

This is not the first large-scale illegal cockfighting bust in Carter County. Just as Barcenas got a soft landing for being at a cockfight and fleeing the scene, six of seven defendants facing felony cockfighting-related charges for illegal cockfighting in June 2023 have since been awarded reduced misdemeanor charges. One of the defendants was Chance Campo of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, which is a political front group for cockfighters.

In June 2023, seven men faced felony cockfighting-related charges including Chance Campo, who was listed as “district director” of a cockfighting front-group called the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission at the time. But Campo got only a $750 charge.

“Just like the mafia have an olive oil company or a trash-hauling company as their front group, the cockfighters have the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission as their façade,” Pacelle said. “Why would these people be selling birds for thousands of dollars apiece to raise money for their political activities in Oklahoma City. Who would pay $1,000 for a rooster but a cockfighter?”

Campo recently offered to sell one of his fighting birds at auction to raise money for the political campaign to overturn Oklahoma’s anti-cockfighting law.

“Oklahoma lawmakers were right not to give the cockfighters the time of day this year at the state capitol and didn’t even have a hearing on any of their cockfighting decriminalization bills,” Chambers said. “Now it’s time for law enforcement not only to make arrests but to bring charges that will deter others from committing these malicious acts of cruelty.”

From the 2023 bust in Carter County, five of the remaining seven defendants facing illegal cockfighting-related felonies in this case all had severely reduced convictions. Another, Gary Bauman, did not show up in a database search.

  • Larry Young, who owned the property where the illegal cockfight was held, was granted a misdemeanor. His penalty was a one-year deferred sentence.
  • John Gilby pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor with a $735.25 fine.
  • Hung Nguyen’s felony was dismissed, and he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and a $694 fine.
  • Son Nguyen had two felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor with a $849.25 fine.
  • Phillip Sanders was charged with a felony and a misdemeanor. His felony case was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor with a $697.75 fine.

Some state legislators, such as Rep. J.J. Humphrey, and even Governor Kevin Stitt, who made a video message supporting the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, have provided ongoing encouragement to their political efforts to decriminalize cockfighting even as they have been provided with evidence that the leaders of this organization are committing serial felonies under state and federal law.

Troy Thompson, a resident of Carter County and the Sergent of Arms for the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, runs what is arguably one of the largest cockfighting operations in the nation. It is located in Wilson, Okla. — just minutes from where this weekend’s fight occurred. Thompson appeared on a Filippino cockfighting network, BNTV, to tout the fighting birds he sells across the world.

To help combat cockfighting as well as dogfighting, 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 the organization or to law enforcement that results in arrests in Oklahoma for illegal cockfighting under state or federal law. Amounts for other information will vary based on the credibility and timeliness of the tips. People with such knowledge may email

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

SHARK is a non-profit organization with supporters around the U.S. and beyond. SHARK receives no government funding and completely relies on donations and grants to work on issues ranging in scope from local to worldwide. With a small core of volunteers, and a staff of five, SHARK battles tirelessly against rodeos, bullfighting, pigeon shoots, turkey shoots, canned hunts and more. President Steve Hindi has an open invitation to debate “the opposition.” Because of his domination of past debates with animal abusers, however, it has been years since the opposition has taken him on.