5 men make first court appearance on animal fighting charges

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 24, 2014 

Five men were arrested when authorities broke up a Mesa cockfighting ring made their first appearances Monday in Franklin County Superior Court.

They were arrested on suspicion of animal fighting -- a felony -- after sheriff's deputies found guns, roosters fighting and sharpened blades Saturday at a property on Langford Road.

Bail was set at $5,000 for Aristeo Isordia, 28, Antonio Vasquez, 35, and Gonzalo Uriostegui Arroyo, 43. There are also immigration holds on Vasquez and Arroyo.

Roberto Jurado Ordaz, 51, who told authorities he owns the property, and Francisco Javier Villanueva Gomez, 20, were released on their own recognizance.

Ordaz was the only one of the suspects who was represented by an attorney during the hearing. Gomez asked a court commissioner to release him because he didn't want to lose his job.

Prosecutors have until Wednesday to formally charge the men.

Deputies were tipped off about the cockfight and found around 100 roosters, according to Sheriff Richard Lathim. It appears the property was used to host cockfights and train roosters.

"We believe they were holding some (fights) there and maybe selling the roosters as well," Lathim said.

When deputies arrived, the crowd scattered, leaving behind empty alcohol containers and sharpened blades that are attached to the roosters' legs when they fight, according to Lathim and court documents.

"There were a lot of blades that were used," Lathim said. "(Deputies) recovered over 100 blades. They are mostly made down in Mexico and can be expensive."

Deputies saw roosters in cages all over the property, and at least one died after it was repeatedly attacked by a younger rooster while it was tied to the ground, court documents said. The cages were close together so the roosters would "agitate" each other.

The roosters had their combs and wattles -- the excess skin around their head and throat -- cut off, indicating they were fighting animals, court documents said.

Lathim told the Herald on Monday that the sheriff's office plans to destroy the roosters. They are being cared for at the property.

"It's a little different than with larger animals," Lathim said. "These roosters are bred to fight, so I don't know that they are what you would normally keep (on a farm)."

Deputies did not find any money at the scene, though illegal gambling usually fuels the fights, Lathim said.

Deputies obtained a search warrant and found three guns, court documents said. One was stolen and another had a serial number shaved off.

Pasco and Kennewick police, the Washington State Gambling Commission and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife assisted in the investigation.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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