A suspected cockfighting operation was discovered by San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies after someone living near the operation in Morro Bay reported it to authorities.
Two men face criminal charges, with one of them booked on an illegal assault weapons charge, according to a search warrant.
Emilio Ingan, 72, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of raising birds for the purpose of fighting and the felony allegation of possessing an assault weapon.
Henry Madrid Ramiscal, 57, was also charged in connection with the operation. He has pleaded not guilty to the felony of animal cruelty and a misdemeanor count of raising birds for the purpose of fighting them.
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Ingan has bailed out of County Jail, and though jail officials didn’t have an arrest record for Ramiscal, he has been formally charged in court.Authorities seized 218 roosters at sites in Los Osos and Morro Bay in February as well as other items believed to be used during cockfights or for training the birds.
The Sheriff’s Office received a report by a citizen who observed suspected cockfighting at the Morro Bay property in the 1100 block of Atascadero Road near La Purisima Avenue.
The citizen told authorities the coop area was being enlarged, and vehicles and people frequented the remote area “sometimes for several hours,” the warrant stated.
Ingan had a previous no-contest conviction on a misdemeanor crime of raising roosters for the purpose of fighting in San Luis Obispo County in 2007.
The Morro Bay property had a 5-foot-high metal fence that enclosed numerous roosters in mostly individual wire coops, which is a sign of a cockfighting ring, investigators said.
Fighting roosters generally are kept separate “because they are very aggressive and will fight with one another,” investigators wrote. Several birds had their combs — the red, fleshy growth on the rooster’s head — and spurs cut. Handlers do this to prevent one bird from having an advantage over another and to minimize bleeding during combat.
Authorities found spurs, dummy birds, medication commonly used in post-fight treatment of birds, and several roosters that appeared to have been “stitched back together again, but not professionally done,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Aaron Nix.
Other roosters were recovered from a residence in the 1500 block of 16th Street in Los Osos, near Paso Robles Avenue, where an illegal assault weapon, a TEC-9 firearm, was also seized.