CLEVELAND, Texas — San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested 19 men in connection to a cockfighting event near Cleveland, Texas, on October 15. Those arrested included seven migrants illegally present in the United States. ICE officials in Houston refused to take custody of or issue immigration detainers on the seven illegal aliens, according to the sheriff’s office.
On Sunday afternoon, San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) dispatchers received a call regarding an incident of animal cruelty in the Oak Forests Subdivions near Cleveland. This location is approximately five miles from the scene where a four-time deported Mexican national allegedly murdered five Honduran migrants in April.
A patrol sergeant and two patrol deputies arrived and found approximately 250-300 people who were allegedly observing or participating in a “large-scale illegal cockfighting operation,” according to a statement from Sheriff Greg Capers’ office. While deputies took 19 people into custody, the remainder fled into the woods — abandoning approximately 100 vehicles.
The first deputies found a large wooden structure covering a round wooden cockfighting arena, the report continues. The arena had wooden bleachers and lawn-chair seating areas. There was also a working kitchen/concession stand.
A whiteboard documented the day’s events and indicated that approximately 44 cockfighting matches had already occurred before the deputies arrived.
The deputies seized 96 live roosters, 43 vehicles, four custom utility trailers equipped for storing and transporting the roosters, five loaded pistols, a small quantity of marijuana, cockfighting paraphernalia and more than $22,000 in cash.
The deputies placed the 19 apprehended suspects under arrest and discovered seven who are believed to be illegally present in the U.S. The sheriff’s office contacted the ICE office in Houston.
Sheriff Capers reported:
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement was contacted regarding the arrest of the subjects suspected to be undocumented immigrants. ICE refused to place any immigration holds on any of the undocumented aliens that were arrested and charged.
The 19 arrested suspects face charges of misdemeanor “observing” cockfighting, felony participation in a cockfighting event, and felony possession of a controlled substance.
Capers said they expect to make additional arrests as the investigation unfolds. At least five additional suspects have been identified. The additional charges could include Felony Animal Cruelty, Felony Cockfighting, Misdemeanor Gambling, Misdemeanor Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, Felony Engaging in Organized Crime, and possible federal charges for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by an Undocumented Alien.
“Animal Cruelty will not be tolerated in San Jacinto County,” Sheriff Capers concluded.
Breitbart Texas contacted ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officials in Houston for additional information regarding the undocumented aliens. The official said they are looking into the matter and will provide a statement. Breitbart will update this article if a statement is received.