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Investigators discovered an estimated 1,000 gamecocks in Ontario, Calif. during a massive cockfighting bust Sunday. Inland Valley Humane Society officials described it as one of the largest findings ever.
Two people were arrested, and multiple citations were given to eight people at the Onatario cockfighting location, ABC reports. Some of the participants were even high-level employees of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
Fifty-seven-year-old Antonio Cacayorin Mendoza of Chino was arrested for misdemeanor cockfighting and 55-year-old Dominador Oposcolo Soliven of Hemet was arrested for misdemeanor animal cruelty, the Associated Press reports.
Cockfighting is a felony in 39 states but in California, the crime is just a misdemeanor.
"The people out here have indicated it's part of their culture," said Sylvia Lemus of the Inland Valley Humane Society told NBC. "They grew up doing this. They do this in their country." Officials said that illegal cockfighting is common in the agricultural areas of Chino and Ontario.
Humane officials said that razors are attached to the roosters' legs to make the fighting bloodier and more deadly. "They're subjecting these animals to needless suffering," Lemus said.
Many gamecocks are "pumped full of steroids and other drugs to increase their metabolism, which makes them stronger and harder to kill," according to the County of Sacramento's Animal Care and Regulation website.
Earlier this month, 300 severely malnourished cockfighting roosters were euthanized after they were found during an investigation into a fatal stabbing at a Southern California business.