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47 arrested in cockfight ring; leader sought

47 people involved in a cockfighting ring were arrested Sunday; however the ring leader remains missing. Deputies discovered several dead roosters on the ground and in barrels in the fighting arena, pictured above. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

January 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Deputies are searching for a man accused of hosting and organizing a large-scale cockfighting ring at his home in Baldy Mesa.

Authorities were called to the home of Fernando Hernandez, 62, Sunday morning after receiving an anonymous report of illegal cockfighting taking place in the 9000 block of Hollister Road in unincorporated Baldy Mesa.

When deputies arrived, a cockfighting operation was in progress inside Hernandez's barn. The event reportedly had over 300 people in attendance. Most of the attendees, including Hernandez, fled on foot. Hernandez remains outstanding.

Deputies did manage to arrest 47 suspects on various charges including animal cruelty, cockfighting and animal fighting spectatorship. They are residents of various southern California locations from Oxnard to Temecula.

Over $21,000 in gambling cash and about 92 fighting birds were seized. Deputies also discovered several dead roosters on the ground and in barrels in the fighting arena.

"Our Rural Crimes Task Force is committed to investigating agriculture-related crimes and animal abuse. We will not allow this blood sport to flourish in the County of San Bernardino," said San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops.

The investigation remains open. Anyone with information about Hernandez's whereabouts or the cockfighting ring should call the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Phelan station at (760) 868-1006. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call 1-800-78-CRIME (27463).