Nearly 50 people were arrested Sunday when San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials broke up a cockfight at a Baldy Mesa home, officials said Monday.
“This appeared to have been an established location with an arena and benches set up for spectators,” said Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.
The owner of the property—Fernando Hernandez, 62—fled the home in the 9000 block of Hollister Road when deputies arrived and is outstanding, officials said in a release.
The cockfighting ring was set up in a barn on the property. When deputies from the Rural Crimes Task Force and from the Victorville, Hesperia and Apple Valley stations arrived, Miller said they estimated 300 people were attending the event.
Most of the spectators were able to flee when deputies showed up, but officials were able to detain and arrest 47 people. The majority were booked for being spectators, with six arrested for animal cruelty.
Deputies also seized 92 birds and about $21,000 in cash.
Authorities found 15 to 20 dead birds Sunday, suggesting there had already been more than a dozen bouts before deputies showed up at 11:30 a.m. that day, Miller stated.
Along with the cruelty inflicted on the birds, Miller said that many of them are brought in from Mexico and have historically tested positive for the bird flu, making them a health hazard for anyone who comes in contact with them.
The 47 people arrested were from various locations from all over Southern California including Oak Hills, Phelan, Hesperia, Little Rock, Palmdale, Lancaster, Los Angeles, Pacoima, Temecula, Riverside, Porter Ranch and Van Nuys.