Authorities continue to pursue evidence regarding an illegal cockfight on West Laurel Road that was raided on Saturday, April 3.
Whatcom County undersheriff Jeff Parks told The Northern Light, “At this point, most of what’s been going on is follow up investigations.”
Fourteen males were apprehended at the scene and nearby woods after attempting to escape.
“When law enforcement showed up, folks ran out into the woods and tried to flee outside,” Parks said. “We had all these people flee the scene.”
He added that U.S. Department of Homeland Security helicopters assisted in the bust because it was helpful in tracking people.
“We also had concerns about immigration status and whether some of the individuals were in the country illegally,” he said. “There are some immigration holds being put on some folks.”
All of the individuals apprehended were of Mexican descent. Cockfighting is a traditional activity in Mexico but has gradually been outlawed in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It is a felony in 39 states, Washington being one of them.
Authorities seized 11 vehicles and close to $9,000 in cash.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, the cockfight took place at 317 W. Laurel Road, in a barn behind Laurel Farm Supply, a business owned by Weylin Eldrid.
Eldrid told officers he had agreed to let some customers of the store use the barn for a party.
Both Eldrid and his father Harold, owner of the barn in question, disavowed any knowledge of animal fighting.
On the deputies’ arrival, they were advised by 911 dispatch that neighbors were reporting men running from the barn in a southeasterly direction. Three were found hiding inside the barn while the others were by the woods south of the barn.
The affidavit states the barn contained a ring of hay bales stacked two high in the center of the barn.
A table containing food and three barrels full of beer were set up with beer bottles and bottles of soda standing on the bales.
The fighting area “appeared well-established as there were approximately two inches of compacted dirt in the center of the ring on top of the concrete floor. Under the hay bales was concrete and there was mold on the bottom of the bales of hay.”
Animal fighting is considered a class C felony in Washington state and is punishable by jail up to five years, a $10,000 fine or a combination of both.
Avelino Angel-Vera, Arturo Apreza-Garcia, Oscar Avila-Vera, Eduardo Camacho-Encinas, Carlos C. Chavez, Andres Diaz Espino, Kevin A. Garcia, Jose Magana Sanchez, Manuel Moreno-Gonzalez, Fabian Orozco-Medina, Cristobal Ramirez-Ruiz, Miguel Ochoa Ramos, Jaime Salazar-Guerrero and Ramon Zepeda-Alvarez were booked into jail and charged with animal fighting.
Seven suspects have been released on bail or a promise to appear in court.