In photo: Living in rough conditions and used for cockfighting, more than 120 roosters were confiscated from a home and are now staying at the Franklin County Animal Control facility in Louisburg. (Photo by Carrie C. Causey)
by Carrie C. Causey
LOUISBURG — In April, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office apprehended 16 suspects for participating in a cockfighting ring. Saturday, they searched a residence believed to be a breeding farm for the roosters used in some of those fights, which led to two more arrests.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to its subsidiary, Franklin County Animal Control, had received complaints about a Zebulon home at 131 Lynyrd Lane off N.C. 39 South near U.S. 64.
Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies, in conjunction with Animal Control officers, N.C. Alochol Law Enforcement agents, detectives from the Wake Forest Police Department Impact Unit and members of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit, served a search warrant on the property.
Franklin County Animal Services Director W.T. Bartholomew said when they arrived, it looked like cockfighting had taken place in the woods at the back of the property. It’s a blood sport where audience members capitalize on roosters’ instinctively violent nature and spectators bet as the roosters fight to the death.
“There were feathers strewn everywhere,” he said.
Eight people were detained, but six were later released, according to a press release by Franklin County Sgt. J. Hastings. Among the charges were cockfighting and drug use.
“The other time it was not at one location,” Bartholomew said referring to suspects in the April incident who met at a house for the fight. “This time they were meeting at a house that was a breeder. They were not only fighting, they were breeding them to raise and sell.”
During the raid, agents confiscated more than 120 roosters, which are being housed at Franklin County Animal Control as evidence. Until they are given the go-ahead to begin finding homes for them, the county must foot the bill for their care. Law enforcement agents also confiscated a dog and a malnourished horse.
“The horse had been kept in a pen, 30-by-30, feet that was muddy and in poor condition, Bartholomew said. “His feet are very bad. They are swollen and need X-rays. We’ll have to absorb the cost of that.”
Items such as razor blades, tags, steroids, and other items potentially related to cockfighting were also seized.
During the search of the property, investigators also found 25 grams of what is believed to be cocaine.
The resident, Jose Angel Prudente Rodriguez was charged with felony possession of cocaine, felony maintaining a dwelling for use of controlled substance and cockfighting. He was put in jail under a $50,000 bond. He also has an immigration detainer by Homeland Security officials.
Eugenio Rodriquez was charged with cockfighting and placed in jail on a $10,000 bond.
Bartholomew said other arrests or charges may stem from the search, and the investigation is ongoing.
During the April incident, agents said this was the first cockfighting arrest they remembered locally. While this may be something new to the area, Animal Control is working harder to crack down on animal cruelty and making arrests where needed, now that the department is under the Sheriff’s Office.
“Dogfighting has been going on for years. Cockfighting may be new, but since we have come under the umbrella of the the Sheriff’s Office and Jerry Jones has taken on Animal Control, our focus is also on the criminal element,” Bartholomew said. “This is a growing problem, not just in Franklin County, but everywhere.”
Domestic victim cut
LOUISBURG — A domestic violence victim was taken to the hospital after she was allegedly punched and cut with a knife.
The incident reportedly happened Saturday at a home on N.C. 561 after the suspect told her he was sleeping with other women. When the victim said she was leaving, the suspect allegedly beat her with a closed fist, holding her down, according to a report filed by Deputy D. Moore.
When police responded, the victim had multiple bruises, a swollen forehead and a bloody nose. She also had a cut on her hand and wrist from where she said she’d been cut with a knife.
EMS believed she would need stitches.
The suspect told police that he had been cut by the victim the night before.
The investigation is ongoing.
LOUISBURG — A woman had to go to the hospital after she was hit by litter.
The victim said she was walking down N.C 39 in Louisburg Saturday afternoon for exercise when a Buick Regal passed her, speeding and one of the passengers threw a 24-ounce beer can out of the window, hitting her in the chest. The victim said the suspect was a small, dark-skinned male, and that he was laughing during the incident.