Cockfighting Suspect Arrested in Phoenix; 77 Roosters Euthanized by Humane Society After Ex-Wife Reports Crime


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Image: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Ramon Leyva, 58, of Phoenix, was arrested on April 17 on suspicion of owning roosters for cockfighting.

​A Phoenix man was arrested last week on suspicion of cockfighting following an investigation conducted in part by Arizona Humane Society employees.

This is the second such arrest for 58-year-old Ramon Adalberto Leyva, court records show. He was convicted in 2004 for attempted cockfighting and sentenced to 10 days in jail and two years' probation.

Apparently, Leyva didn't learn his lesson. And he got no respect as King of the Roost -- his ex-wife turned him in, according to court documents.



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Image: Wikimedia Commons
The centuries-old bloodsport is banned in all 50 states
​After the divorce, the ex-wife ended up with the property and called the Humane Society, says Officer Luis Samudio, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Records show that Arizona Humane Society employees went out to Leyva's property at 125 West Elwood Street on March 17 after getting a call that Leyva was housing roosters for fighting.

Apparently, the Humane Society has a police-like arm that conducts these sorts of investigations, though they don't have sworn officers.

Records show that Humane Society employees "responded" to a tip about a crime, entered the suspect's property, interviewed the suspect and his ex-wife, and collected evidence -- then called police, records show. 

After they arrived, the ex-wife told the employees that Leyva:

has been keeping roosters for the sole purpose of cockfighting in the southeast corner of the property. They were able to see several roosters with waddles, combs, earlobs and spurs, shaved and the only known purpose of shaving those body parts on roosters if for cockfighting to prevent them from being ripped off during the fight. The AHS employess contacted [Leyva], he allowed them to enter the coop and shed area.


In the shed, the employees reported, Leyva tried to hide the birds' gaffes -- the wicked-looking blades fitted onto the roosters' legs before the fights.

Leyva bolted after being told that "police were involved," saying he would flee to Mexico, the report states. Cops later raided the property, reportedly finding cockfighting pamphlets and magazines, syringes and "supplements" for the chickens and seven pairs of gaffs.

The 77 roosters at the property were euthanized by the Humane Society, the report says, adding that:

the birds that were in the shed did not have any injuries and appeared more aggressive as if they were being prepared to fight the next week. The birds located in the nesting boxes just outside the shed all had fresh injuries as if they had fought the previous weekend.



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​The 2004 conviction, records state, followed Leyva's hosting of a cockfight in his mechanic shop on the same property -- his residence for 30 years.

Cops arrested Leyva on Saturday evening in Phoenix after a traffic stop and seek a charge of felony cockfighting.

Arizona voters banned cockfighting in a 1998 ballot initiative. Attending a cockfight in the state is a misdemeanor, while owning fighting birds and hosting cockfights is a felony.

Despite the penalties, the "sport" survives underground thanks to its legions of bloodthirsty fans, (who include former New Times writer David Holthouse, judging by his April 13, 2000 column on the subject). In Hawaii, legislators even recently considered a resolution that would have recognized cockfighting as a "cultural activity," despite the state's ban.

Cockfighting "goes hand in hand with other crimes," according to a Web page of the Humane Society of the United States.

Yet the Arizona Humane Society routinely sends out specially qualified employees to scenes like Leyva's property, says the organization's spokeswoman, Kimberly Seales.

Most of those employees have some training in animal medicine and conducting abuse investigations, she says. Seales didn't have specific details about the Leyva investigation, saying she'd call back later if she learned more.

Seales says the Humane Society investigators are called "officers" within the organization, and Seales calls them officers several times during her phone conversation with New Times. She insists, however, that the employees "don't flash a badge, don't represent themselves as officers" when they go out to a suspected crime scene like Leyva's.

"There is a risk involved," she says, adding that she's not aware of any violent situation the "officers" have been in.

You'd think they'd at least where gaffe-proof vests.

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