YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An anonymous letter led police to a suspected cockfighting ring in Youngstown.
The letter was sent to Animal Charity Humane Society, and they called police to investigate a home on Youngstown’s east side.
“It was just a plain piece of paper that said there have been multiple deliveries of chickens to a certain address,” said Animal Charity Board President Mary Louk.
Once at the home, police arrested Rogelio Rojas-Pena and Luis Rodriguez, charging them with drug possession.
Although Vice Squad detectives had been investigating Rojas-Pena for some time, humane agents said they found evidence of chicken-fighting as well as drugs at Rojas’ home on Ives Street.
Youngstown Police Lt. Gerry Slattery said steroid, which were suspected to be used for the chickens, were found.
“We also found illegal contraband, heroin, over an ounce of heroin, and we found cocaine also,” Slattery said.
In the garage, agents recovered nearly four dozen roosters and hens, as well as two dogs — one of them chained outside in the cold. While the dogs are now in the care of Animal Charity, the birds were all taken to a sanctuary in Ravenna.
Louk said her agents believe there are other chicken-fighting rings in the area, but its difficult to catch them. She said 150 chickens have been seized in the city and asked that the community call and report such incidents.
“People sometimes downplay cockfighting versus dog fighting, but in the end, it’s still an animal that is being treated cruelly. These chickens are hurt. They put razor blades or spurs on their legs, so this is painful for them,” she said.
Lt. Slattery said cockfighting usually goes hand-in-hand with other crimes.
Rojas-Pena and Rodruguez remain in Mahoning County Jail after appearing in court Friday. Police said Rojas-Pena was on probation for a federal drug conviction.
Humane Agents are expected to file animal cruelty charges as well.