Spanish police bust cockfighting ring, detain 134

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Spanish police said Tuesday they had smashed a ring which staged illegal cockfights with a weekend raid at a remote farm of a national level competition that resulted in the arrest of 134 people.

Police suspect the ring, made up of members of the same family, routinely staged cockfighting competitions at their farm near the town of Sangonera la Seca in the eastern province of Murcia where people placed bets on the results.

"In many cases the animals died in the fights since they would strap spurs or knives to the animal's legs which would produce mortal wounds," police said in a statement.

"The biggest bets were placed on the weekend when people would come from all over."

Police seized 600 fighting roosters, as well as drugs given to the animals to make them more aggressive and knives that were strapped to their legs during the cockfights, several guns and 74,000 euros in cash as part of the operation.

The authorities said most of the detained during Sunday's raid were members of the public who were at the farm for "a national level competition which drew a large number of fans."

The detained include nationals from Colombia and Ecuador as well as Spain. They face charges of animal abuse, crimes against nature and illegal possession of a firearm.

Supporters say cockfights are a competitive sport that is based on the natural behaviour of roosters. But opponents, led by animal rights activists, denounce it as cruel and brutal.

© 2011 AFP

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