The few neighbors in a rural Yucaipa neighborhood were awakened Tuesday not by roosters at a sprawling chicken farm, but by officials with search warrants.
"Investigators did believe that the property owners were raising, breeding, training and selling these birds to Mexico, where these birds were made to fight in derbies," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's Spokesperson Jodie Miller.
A copy of a Mexican cockfighting magazine outlined the high entry fees and very high prizes for some of the legal events held in Mexico.
Some of these pictures in Yucaipa released by the Humane Society show the chickens -- more than 600, more than 400 of them roosters -- are well cared for and well fed. Officials say evidence supporting their accusation of breeding and training of game birds was seized.
"There have been no arrests," said Miller. "The deputies went to the location yesterday morning. They did not find anyone at home. The persons involved are believed to be out of the country at this time."
The closest neighbor said he was told the birds were just exotic birds.
"You know, I'm not sure what definitions of exotic birds are," said neighbor William Roberts. "I mean, you can buy llamas that are really expensive. So just because they're exotic chickens, I'm not sure what different kinds of exotic chickens there are."
No arrests have been made. The owners of this operation are in Mexico and a caretaker is caring for the hundreds of birds remaining at the location.
Authorities believe that most of the battle fowl raised and trained here are shipped to Mexico. But dealing with illegal cockfighting is a problem for authorities in the United States.