Rusk County Sheriff’s Office to be recognized for shutting down cockfighting rings

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas sheriff’s office is being recognized for their efforts to break up cockfighting rings.

Recent efforts to stop the crime in Rusk County have drawn the praises of a humane organization.

On Thursday, Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez and his staff will be recognized for their efforts in shutting down cockfighting rings.

“I get an email saying I needed to contact them, and when I did, they informed me that we were getting a law enforcement award,” the sheriff said.

That award was from the Humane Society of the United States, which recognized Rusk County’s efforts to trace down and stop cockfighting over the summer.

In a well-organized effort, the sheriff was able to identify locations and participants in the sub-culture inside the county.

“The first one we did, we seized 30 birds and actually arrested the guy that was one of the trainers. The second one was a 9-1-1 call about a month later. We seized a total of 87 birds, several had passed away from fighting,” Valdez said.

The effort saved over 100 birds from the ring.

The history of cockfighting goes back to Greek times and it is a sub-culture that operates in the shadows of society.

“They’re using apps on phones to notify everyone that wants to participate. A lot of these are cartel-based. Whether it’s drugs, human trafficking, cock-fighting, dog fighting, all these things don’t happen without cartel approval,” Valdez said.

According to Texas law, cockfighting is a blood sport and violates animal cruelty laws.

“This culture doesn’t like to be exposed. We’re going to do what we need to do to get them out of here,” Valdez said.

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