CEDAR VALLEY, Utah (ABC4) – A second cockfighting operation has been found in Utah County.
In early May, authorities located thousands of chickens in an Orem home after finding a cockfighting ring at the residence. A man, 32-year-old Jose Meza-Basan was found in the basement, along with hundreds of chicks, and was taken into custody.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office says a second cockfighting operation has been found, this one in Cedar Valley.
Authorities say they received a third-party report about a large group of people gathering at a building near 3100 South and 18150 West at a location called Yellowbrush Well, near Allen’s Ranch Road.
When deputies arrived, they noticed a large number of cars inside a closed fence. Within that area was a building, made largely of plywood. Roosters crowing and people yelling and cheering could be heard.
Slideshow: Findings from Utah County cockfighting ring (viewer discretion is advised)
A man reportedly came out to talk to a deputy, who then saw multiple people run from the opposite side of the building.
After receiving a search warrant, deputies found two “rings” on the ground inside the building. Outside, deputies say they found a disturbed area in the dirt and noticed what appeared to be a chicken foot protruding from the ground.
That turned out to be a dead rooster, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities dug up the pit, finding 24 dead roosters and 15 live chickens.
Those live chickens were impounded, according to deputies.
Four men have received misdemeanor citations for cruelty to animals while 31 received misdemeanor citations for attending animal fights. All 35 were released after being issued citations.
While investigators say they have no evidence at this time connecting these two cockfighting operations, they do believe there is a connection.
“At the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, we don’t come across these kinds of operations very often. So it is unusual to come across to such operations in a period of just six days,” the Sheriff’s Office says.
In 2015, then Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill to make cockfighting a felony offense in Utah into law.