A Brentwood man was arrested and dozens of fighting roosters seized from his yard in a dawn raid Wednesday, Suffolk police said.
Armed with a search warrant, Third Precinct officers and emergency service units raided the Fourth Street home of Reynaldo Bonilla, 37, and charged him with several felonies, including drug possession and training animals to fight, Det. Sgt. Anthony Lavista said.
The roosters were kept in wire cages, including some placed on top of each other, he said.DataLI crime stats
Bonilla, of 107 Fourth St., is expected to be arraigned Thursday on the animal-fighting charge; third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation.
The raid stemmed from a narcotics investigation, and packets of cocaine prepared for sale were found, police said. Court records show Bonilla has a record of drug-related convictions.
Bonilla's relatives could not be reached Wednesday.
Authorities knew he had roosters on the property and called the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to determine if Bonilla was involved in the "bloody sport" of cockfighting, said Roy Gross, the agency's chief.
An SPCA investigator had gone to the home about two years ago but did not see enough evidence to charge Bonilla with training roosters to fight, which would include steroids, razors that can be attached to the birds' legs to cut opponents and boxing gloves for roosters' feet to prevent them from hurting each other during training, Gross said.
But he said training and fighting "implements" were found on Bonilla's property this time.
"You could see these birds were prepared for fighting," Gross said.
There was no indication that cockfights had been held at Bonilla's home, Gross said, but often, rooster owners transport their birds to the fights from "cock hotels" in sheds and yards off the beaten path. It's a way to thwart authorities who might bust a cockfight and to minimize the loss of birds that could sell for thousands of dollars, he said.
The roosters were euthanized by SPCA's veterinarian, Gross said. They were not suitable as food because they probably had steroids and painkillers in their systems to boost their fighting abilities, he said.
Also, cock fighters usually cannot be rehabilitated to live with other birds, he said.
"Unfortunately, they are gladiators, and these birds fight to the death," Gross said.
Cockfights are often hard to track down, a "blood sport" that has gone deeper underground as authorities crack down on the illegal fights, experts said.
"It's high stakes, thousands and thousands of dollars bet on these fights," Gross said. "It's just simply barbaric."