By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
GOLD BAR — A Gold Bar man posed for pictures with some of the roosters he allegedly was training to fight to the death.
Investigators found photographs of Juan Carlos Gomez Fierros with fighting fowl when they raided his property in 2011, according to court papers recently filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.
They also found 59 roosters, a cockfighting arena in the garage and a freshly dug pit where the losing roosters ended up. Investigators were told that Gomez Fierros, 31, hosted death matches for roosters on his property.
In cockfighting competitions, participants bet on which rooster will be victorious in winner-take-all bouts. Roosters typically are fitted with razor blades on their feet and are trained to slash their opponents to death.
They sometimes are injected with vitamins to increase their stamina and energy. The birds also have their combs, wattles and earlobes removed for fighting purposes, court papers said.
Prosecutors last week charged Gomez Fierros with animal fighting, a felony.
The Gold Bar property where he lived came to the attention of authorities through a confidential informant, who reported that multiple locations throughout Snohomish County were being used for cockfighting.
In November 2011, police officers from around the county swarmed the Gold Bar property. Dozens of people were at the scene; some of them fled into the woods. In all, 17 people were arrested.
A cockfighting expert from the Humane Society of the United States helped with search. He pointed out an area in the garage that was consistent with a fighting arena, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Elise Deschenes wrote in court papers. A single rooster was found inside a pen in the arena.
The rooster had been “dubbed,” meaning someone had cut off some of the bird’s vulnerable body parts, including its wattle and comb. The expert also noticed that the rooster was fitted with a strap that could be used to attach a blade to the rooster’s leg.
Investigators also found other equipment commonly associated with cockfighting, including blades and miniature boxing gloves that fit over their spurs and are used during sparring matches, court papers said.
Inside the house, police found magazines about cockfighting, advertisements for supplies and the photographs of the defendant with birds.
All the roosters were seized by the Humane Society of the United States.
This wasn’t the first time police investigated cockfighting in Snohomish County. In 2008, a Snohomish-area property was raided after investigators were tipped off to illegal gaming. Police found dozens of birds that were being raised, trained and sold.
A Snohomish man was sentenced to two months in jail after pleading guilty to animal fighting.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.