Cockfighting, Home-Invading, Kidnapping and Robbery Charges Still Pending in Phoenix Tire Store Case, Police Say

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This tire shop at 10th Street and Broadway Road still appeared to be open for business when we drove by a couple of weeks ago, despite the heavy criminal charges police say are still pending against the owner, Manuel Torres. We wrote previously about meeting several employees at the shop the day after Torres' arrest.

Police say Torres, 39, and his employees ran a crime syndicate from the shop at 1010 E. Broadway Road that preyed on illegal immigrants, launching a spree of kidnappings, home invasions and armed robberies. As apparent recreation, the group reportedly raised roosters for illegal cockfighting matches.

Cops served a search warrant earlier this month on the place and found weapons, a bullet-resistant vest, wads of cash and ammo all believed to be linked to the crimes. Pit bulls guarded pens packed with 31 suspected fighting roosters. Police also apprehended six illegal immigrants at the business.

The case hasn't produced charges yet because of its complexity -- investigators are still working on it, Phoenix police spokesman Luis Samudio tells us.
At the least, Torres seems to be facing a possible 31 felony counts of cruelty to animals, based on the number of roosters found.

The police report on this one is still being prepared, but Samudio revealed some details of three of the employees nabbed by cops:

* Juan Martinez, 39, who had previously served three years in prison for returning to the United States after being officially deported. His latest re-entry into the country could net him up to four more years in prison.

* Jose Nova, 40, booked on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant with an immigration hold, meaning he's likely been voluntarily removed to Mexico.

* Wuilver Bibiano-Rios, 27, was released to the feds for voluntary removal.

The last two raise an eyebrow -- if these people were possibly involved in the robberies and kidnappings, why are they being given a bus ride home, where they are free to re-cross the international border? Is the evidence against them -- and Torres -- lacking?

With a potentially long list of victims, this case is worth watching.


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