U.S. cockfighting busts reveal Philippine connection

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2008:
HONOLULU–Alleged cockfighter Joseph Marty Toralba, 39, on
February 21, 2008 became one of the first persons indicted under the
May 2007 U.S. federal Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act,
prosecutor Ed Kubo told reporters. The act added felony provisions
to existing federal law against transporting animals for fighting or
animal fighting paraphernalia across state or U.S. national
U.S. Customs agents at the Honolulu airport on February 2,
2008 found 263 cockfighting gaffs in boxes imported from the
Philippines that Toralba said held gas stoves, prosecutor Ed Kubo
alleged. Toralba, of Colfax, Louisiana, keeps 650 gamecocks and
breeding hens, Kuba noted.

Toralba was arrested four months after the San Diego County
Department of Animal Services seized 4,500 gamecocks from a ranch
near San Ysidro, California, less than a mile from the Mexican
border, that allegedly supplied fighting birds to Hawaii and the
Philippines, at prices of up to $1,000 for an egg and $2,000 for a
hatched gamecock.
“The federal law does not apply to raising and training the
birds, so the estimated 50 people arrested in the San Ysidro raid
are being charged under California law, which makes raising the
birds or staging the fights a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of
a year in jail and a $5,000 fine,” wrote David Hasemyer of the San
Diego Union Tribune.
The 4,500 birds were killed on the property, which is within
the region where approximately three million poultry died or were
culled in 2002 as result of an exotic Newcastle disease outbreak that
apparently originated among gamecocks.
British Columbia SPCA spokesperson Eileen Drever questioned
the B.C. laws pertaining to cockfighting on February 29, 2008,
after 17 SPCA staff spent half a day killing 1,270 gamecocks seized
two days earlier from three sites near Cloverdale, in the Fraser
Valley. Drever hoped that as many as 30 people would be charged, as
result of a two-year investigation, but the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police had charged only one 58-year-old man by the end of the week.
He was released on his own recognizance.
The maximum penalty for cockfighting in British Columbia is
six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
The alleged Cloverdale cockfighting venues were in a poultry
production hub where more than 17 million birds were killed in 2004
due to an outbreak of the avian flu H7N3. Highly contagious among
birds, H7N3 rarely passes to humans, but mildly infected two B.C.
poultry workers.

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