Saturday, April 21, 2012



Note: the "hispanic, latino, brown, non-anglo" sport has a wide
following in AZ also.

No arrests after 'massacre' at rural La Blanca cockfight
April 20, 2012 9:31 AM
Jared Taylor and Naxi Lopez
The Monitor

LA BLANCA — Masked gunmen ambushed a cockfighting arena early
Thursday morning, recklessly firing bullets that sent participants
and spectators scrambling to escape.

Three men were killed and eight others went to area hospitals after
the bloody assault that occurred shortly after midnight.

Hidalgo County sheriff's investigators swarmed the underground
cockfighting operation that turned into a crime scene following the
attack, remaining there well into Thursday afternoon.

Few answers have emerged following the unexplained carnage that
erupted amid a cluster of homes along Jesus Flores Road, a caliche
route that intersects remote farmland south of Mile 20 North.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said before sunrise Thursday that
deputies were questioning the property owners about the illegal
cockfighting ring, though they had not been named as suspects in the

Witnesses said people fled the area when between two and four
shooters opened fire "indiscriminately" upon the gathering, Treviño
said. Deputies arrived within two minutes after receiving a call of
multiple people shot at 12:12 a.m. Thursday.

People went to their vehicles and sped away from the area. Others ran
into nearby undergrowth to seek refuge. All of that left the crime
scene in a disarray — one that Treviño described as among the
dirtiest he's seen in four decades of his law enforcement career.

"This has to be the crime scene from hell," he said. "It was a
chaotic situation."

Victims trampled spent bullet casings and destroyed plenty of
recoverable evidence at the scene, the sheriff said.

Little information about the attackers was made public Thursday.
Before dawn, Treviño said investigators did not know the identities
of the gunmen, who will likely face charges of capital murder and
attempted capital murder, if they are arrested.

Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Homer Jasso, who pronounced the
deaths of the three slain men, said he was shocked at the gore of the
crime scene.

"It was a massacre," Jasso told The Associated Press. "I haven't seen
this kind of violence in the Valley on my watch. … This is the first
time in my life I've seen something this bad."

Authorities have not named the slaying victims, waiting for their
families to be notified. Two of the men, ages 49 and 53, were
brothers. The other man was 42 years old.

Funeral home workers removed the bodies shortly before noon Thursday.
Tow trucks removed several vehicles from the scene. Hidalgo County
animal control workers attended to the roosters, but would not
comment on the number of live or dead birds still there.

One man lay under a corrugated metal and wood building that enclosed
bleachers, cockfighting ring and concession stand, Jasso said. The
two other men were just outside.

It was unclear how many people attended the cockfight, but Jasso
estimated between 200 and 300 discarded beer cans littered the ground.

Neighbors said between 30 and 60 people typically showed up for the
illegal fights on Wednesday and Sunday nights. The property has
served as an undercover cockfighting venue for at least three years.

At least 20 dead fighting roosters also were strewn about the scene,
though Jasso said he did not know if the birds died in the ring or
from the gunfire.

Deputies encountered one of the shooting victims as he fled the
carnage in a pickup — later observed along Mile 20 North, charred and
completely burnt.

"Somehow, some way, while we were interviewing the victim, their car
erupted into flames," the sheriff said.

A relative of another injured person called deputies to report their
loved one was hiding in the brush. A police dog searched the area
before dawn Thursday, looking for other possible victims also seeking

Neighbors said spectators and enthusiasts have flocked to the
cockfighting ring, set between a mobile home and watermelon fields
along Jesus Flores Road, for at least three years.

Those who participate bring their own roosters. The sophisticated
operation featured several battle rings, a rooster weighing room,
bleachers and a concession stand, Treviño said.

"Cockfighting is a big problem in South Texas — not only in Hidalgo
County, but in all of South Texas," he said. "To them, it's a sport.
But to the state of Texas, it's a crime."

Rosalinda Ramos, 56, who lives two houses from the crime scene, said
she awoke about 2 a.m. and saw sheriff's investigators, thinking they
had shut down the cockfights. Only after she woke up Thursday morning
did she learn of the barrage of gunfire.

Manuel Castillo, 21, said his family didn't know there had been a
shooting. His mother, who refused to give her name, said she would
get scared of the cockfighting enthusiasts, who occasionally would
mistake her property as the arena.

"I would get mad and have to ask them to leave," she said.

The homeowners are "very poor," occasionally asking for eggs or
tortillas, Ramos said.

Ramos described the area as secluded, though she said it has seen
crime in the past. A burned out truck was found in the area within
the past few months, she said. About two years ago, the bodies of two
men had been abandoned in a car's trunk for days before anyone noticed.

But Ramos said in her 20 years living there, she has never heard of
anything in her neighborhood like the masked gunmen's ambush.

"I used to tell my kids they might catch them like in other places
and they close it down," she said of the cockfighting ring. "But we
never thought it was going to happen like that — not like that.

"This is bad, real bad. And like I said, it's too close to us. We're
just innocent people."

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed a bill that broadened the
state's ability to prosecute those involved in cockfighting. The
bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, made
it illegal to breed fighting cocks or attend a fight.


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