In an operation they called "Coop Bowl," five law enforcement agencies made 33 arrests Sunday morning following a raid on a cockfighting operation in northwestern York County, officials said.
They seized about 30 roosters, one dead and two wounded, plus more than $4,000 in cash, according to York County Sheriff's Capt. Stanley Wells. Officers also served a warrant for driving under suspension, and one suspect also was charged with second offense possession of marijuana, he added.
The roosters had metal spurs fixed to their talons, and evidence indicated they had been injected with a stimulant to make them fight more aggressively, Wells said.
"I think they knew what they were doing," Wells said. "They were professional. I have reason to believe this wasn't their first time."
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About 20 deputies with the Sheriff's Department, plus officers with the State Law Enforcement Division, the Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the York Police Department and a canine unit set the operation in motion at about 5 a.m. They had been working on the case for three weeks, Wells said.
At about 11 a.m., they swooped down on two cockfighting rings at 233 Howell Road, Wells said. More than a half-dozen people fled on foot, but a SLED helicopter and a DNR aircraft helped track down all but one or two of them, Wells said.
"I believe we got there right after the first or second fight," he said. "It was not as bloody as it would have been if we came later."
Cockfighting is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine or one year in jail, Wells said. All were charged on their first cockfighting offense.
"It's not like drug dealing, where you get tips," Wells said. "The people we are dealing with are very close-knit. You don't hear too much talk about cockfighting."