SWANSEA, S.C., Nov. 5 (UPI) — A 13-month investigation has led to the indictment of 21 people for allegedly participating in cockfighting in South Carolina, court records indicate.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Internal Revenue Service cooperated in the investigation of cockfighting derbies in Lexington and Williamsburg counties, The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper reported Thursday.
The suspects face prison terms of five years and fines of $250,000, the newspaper said.
They were charged Tuesday with operating an illegal gambling business, operating an unlawful animal fighting venture and conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act.
Undercover officers said they witnessed cockfighting derbies in which birds had sharp weapons or tools attached to their legs, with cash prizes going to participants whose roosters win the most fights. Investigators said they saw dead birds being discarded in 55-gallon drums, the newspaper said.
The largest derbies were held on a 50-acre farm in Swansea, court records indicated.
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