OREM, Utah (ABC4) – Thousands of chickens were found at an Orem home after police discovered a cockfighting ring on Tuesday.
According to arresting documents, police were serving a search warrant at the home after receiving reports of drug activity and cockfighting taking place there.
Officers then found 32-year-old Jose Meza-Basan in the basement of the home along with hundreds of baby chickens.
Arresting documents said the chickens had sharpened metal spurs tied to their legs.
Police explained that these spurs are tied to the chickens’ legs “in order to inflict more damage to another chicken when fighting,”
Overall, thousands of chickens were discovered at the home.
Detectives also found a fake ID card and a fake Social Security number in Basan’s possesion.
Animal Wellness Action, a group dedicated to combatting animal cruelty, issued the following statement regarding the cockfighting ring,
“Cockfighting is not only inhumane and unconscionable, but it’s also a health and human safety threat, given the role of cockfighting in spreading Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza – something everyone should be mindful of as we recover from the current pandemic. Conditions surrounding cockfighting aren’t that different than the wet markets where COVID-19 likely jumped the species barrier with cockfighters often sucking the blood out of roosters’ lungs themselves in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation-like contact so the gamecocks can continue to fight to the death – blood and feathers flying all around.”
Basan was booked into Utah County Jail and faces potential charges of aggravated cruelty to animals and two counts of possession of a forgery.
In 2015, then Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill to make cockfighting a felony offense in Utah into law.