Rural Rock County resident accused of raising roosters for fighting
TOWN OF NEWARK—A rural Rock County man raised roosters to be fighting cocks for several years before a raid on his house Wednesday, a Rock County sheriff's investigator said.
A SWAT team and other deputies raided the residence Tuesday and found 61 roosters in cages and a few hens inside a privacy fence in the house's backyard, Sgt. Aaron Burdick said.
Two veterinarians examined the birds and found none with immediate medical needs.
Some roosters had minor injuries, but nothing that could be substantiated as coming from cockfighting, Burdick said.
Deputies also discovered 16 pounds of marijuana in 15 vacuum-sealed packages in the crawl space of the house at 8424 W. Mill Pond Road, west of Beloit, Burdick said.
Jorge A. Marquez, 37, was arrested on suspicion of instigating fights between animals, a felony.
He also was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and maintaining a drug trafficking house.
Formal charges are expected when Marquez appears in Rock County Court at 3 p.m. Thursday. He is being held at the Rock County Jail.
Investigators believe the roosters were destined to be fighting cocks in part because of equipment found on the premises, Burdick said. Equipment included tethers and wrappings for the roosters.
No spurs were found. Fighting roosters often are outfitted with metal spurs.
Marquez and people familiar with the operation told investigators he was raising the roosters to fight, Burdick said.
Burdick said more arrests are possible, but he declined to answer questions about possible buyers or destinations for the birds, citing the needs of the investigation.
The arrest comes after a four-month investigation that arose from anonymous tips and from advertisements for cockfighting, Burdick said.
Burdick said investigators know of no cockfighting in the county, and it appears no fights were held at Marquez' residence.
Marquez was not at the residence when officers arrived, but they contacted him, and he turned himself in, Burdick said.
Another person who lives at the house is caring for the roosters, which are not in immediate danger, Burdick said.
The arrest comes after a four-month investigation, Burdick said.
Louisiana was the last state to ban cockfighting, in 2008, according to The Times-Picayune.
Gamecocks, as they are sometimes called, are often outfitted with metal objects on their legs that can inflict grievous injuries to their opponents.