SJCSO: Illegal cockfighting ring in Cleveland area leads to multiple arrests, seizure of vehicles, equipment

The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to an incident of animal cruelty around 4:37 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, on the 100 block of Maxine Road in the Cleveland area of San Jacinto County. The property is located within the Oaks Forest Subdivision off of FM 2025.

A patrol sergeant and two patrol deputies arrived on scene and reportedly observed approximately 250-300 individuals in plain view either observing and/or participating in a large scale illegal cockfighting operation. Deputies were able to detain 19 subjects. The remainder of the subjects on scene fled into surrounding woods, abandoning approximately 100 vehicles on scene, which caused responding deputies to call for back-up.

“Initial responding deputies also observed in plain view a large wooden permanent covered structure with a round wooden cock fighting arena, temporary wooden bleachers, lawn chair seating, and a working kitchen/concession stand all located under the permanent structure. Also located under the covered structure were various items of gambling paraphernalia including a dry erase board documenting various fights/matches between birds that indicated some 44 matches/fights had already taken place earlier in the day,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

After the arrival of back-up deputies and responding investigators, they reportedly located additional cockfighting paraphernalia and numerous roosters were observed all throughout the property in and around numerous vehicles and trailers.

A total of 96 live roosters were ultimately located and seized from dozens of vehicles, cages, and transport boxes on the ground throughout the property and from four custom transport trailers that were equipped with wooden pens, lights, and air conditioning.

Cockfighting paraphernalia including gaffs (razor sharp miniature knife like objects that are affixed to the roosters’ natural spurs to cut and/or stab the opposing rooster during a match/fight), wax string, surgical and electrical tape used for wrapping gaffs, vitamins, steroids, and other drugs, syringes, food, cages, and other forms of cockfighting paraphernalia reportedly were located in dozens of vehicles and the four custom trailers.

Deputies and investigators also observed several dozen dead roosters located adjacent to vehicles and/or trailers where live roosters were also located. Several roosters were found still wearing gaffs in their cages.

The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office reports the following outcome to the investigation:

  • 96 live birds were seized and a seizure hearing is pending for the final disposition/custody of the birds.
  • 19 subjects were arrested on scene for observing and/or participating in cockfighting. At least seven are believed to be undocumented aliens;
  • A total of 75 vehicles were towed from the scene;
  • 43 vehicles were seized and are pending forfeiture proceedings;
  • Four custom utility trailers equipped for storing/transporting birds have been seized and are pending forfeiture proceedings;
  • 22 vehicles that were towed from the scene have been or will be released back to registered owners;
  • Five fully loaded semi-automatic pistols were seized from vehicles with cockfighting paraphernalia also present;
  • A small amount of marijuana was located and seized from two vehicles with cockfighting paraphernalia also present.
  • A total of approximately $22,096 was seized from the 19 arrested subjects with one subject found to be in possession of $6,000. The subjects with the larger amounts of cash were found to be the registered owners of vehicles that were seized and allegedly contained cockfighting paraphernalia.


  • Of the 19 subjects arrested on scene, 18 of those were charged with misdemeanor “observing” cockfighting.
  • One subject was charged with felony participating in cock fighting.
  • One subject was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 (cocaine) less than 1 gram.

“This is an ongoing investigation with a large amount of investigative work yet to be conducted. The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to identify the suspects that fled the scene which were either participating in the cockfighting and/or animal cruelty, as well as those that were there to observe the cockfighting and/or animal cruelty. Those found to have been at the scene will be charged to the maximum extent the law allows,” the statement continues.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement was contacted regarding the arrest of the subjects suspected to be undocumented immigrants. ICE reportedly refused to place any immigration holds on any of the undocumented aliens that were arrested and charged.

“We have identified at least five suspects that will likely be charged with multiple felonies as this investigation continues. Charges could include, but are not limited to: Felony Animal Cruelty, Felony CockFighting, Misdemeanor Illegal Gambling, Misdemeanor Unlawful Carrying a Weapon, Felony Engaging in Organized Crime, and federal charges of Unlawful Possession of Firearm by an Undocumented Alien.

“Animal Cruelty will not be tolerated in San Jacinto County. All evidence, summaries and facts of the case will be presented to the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office and subsequently, a grand jury, to determine if any more charges will be filed in this case,” the statement from the sheriff’s office continues.

Names and Charges are captioned on each booking photo. (Note: The following persons do not currently have a booking photo available for release:

-Ortuno-Ortega, Jose / Charge: Attending a Cockfight

-Miranda-Perez, Emigdio / Charge: Participating in a Cockfight

-Rios-Martinez, Narciso / Charge: Attending a Cockfight

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Folks want to come here for “a better life” but want to bring all of their 3rd world BS with them. I’ll never understand it.

  2. This and also Dog fights need to CARRY the STIFFEST PENALTIES EVER. No animal asks to be born and this is a horrible sin. The same pain and cruelty applied to those who participate in this activity should be done to the people to give them an idea of what the animal goes through… As a property owner in the MONTGOMERY County we MUST PUNISH those doing this.

  3. Pat Long
    I don’t know about the rest of the readers but looks like they are prospering, 22k, 6k on one person. Takes me awhile to make that kind of money. They are doing it on the back of poor animals. I say strap a razor on them and turn them loose. See how it feels. It maybe a long time tradition in Mexico but the US should not tolerate it. Shame on them and I hope Sheriff Capers catches every last one of them. San Jacinto County District Attorney Staff will follow the law and I am comfortable with the fact they will be prosecuted.

  4. Upgrade the charges to felonies and no plea deals— with a minimum of 2 years jail time. Then sale every vehicle and trailer along with the property where it took place. Find out how many are on government assistance too. There are cock fighting rings all over East Texas that need to be located and shut down. You don’t have the equipment and audience if that was the only one.

  5. The authorities left all the roosters in boxes with no food or water. Still there as of Thursday 10/19/23. Many were just turned loose on the property, and have killed each other. Animal rescue was not called. Why haven’t the San Jacinto Co authorities been charged with animal cruelty? Ask them if the animals were seized and where they are at. They never seized them. They were left to starve to death in boxes. They diddnt think anyone would find out what they did to the animals!

    • How do you know they were left there free ? You’re correct when they are babies they fight each other which is why they have to be in cages as the grow. That’s just how they are born. They won’t stop fighting until they are dead.

    • all the birds are at the SJCSD impound lot being fed and watered everyday get you info right sir .yes some birds got loose and are roaming around the property .because they escaped their cages just saying get you facts rights …ps and most if not all are in trailers with AC on also

  6. Yeah…this kinda stuff happens all the time in the part of the subdivision that is not blacktop roads! Election year coming up so I guess we will see if Sam Houston and the Sheriff Dept does anything about it before the elections! They haven’t before!

  7. Just think if we could go back in time and stop all cockfighters in this country. We could have locked all those people up like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and many other horrible people that raised and fought gamecocks. Then there would have never been a land of the free or brave as those cockfighters would have been stopped by locking them up in prison or even killing them. Then we could have saved a bunch of money by not having to pass laws against this because we would not have freedom anyway. We could be known as the United States/Colonies of England. Won’t everyone be glad when we receive the one world order/government? Where there are only laws against the people and not for the people?

    • By your logic, we should allow slavery and lynchings, and not allow women to vote. Laws evolve as a society becomes civilized.

      Dumbest argument I have heard in a long time.

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