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Massive cockfighting operation busted in Utah County

Posted at 9:14 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 23:14:15-04

CEDAR VALLEY, Utah — Thirty-five people were arrested or cited for allegedly participating in a sophisticated cock fighting operation in Utah County Saturday.

Fighting rings were discovered by sheriff’s deputies on the west side of Utah Lake in an extremely desolate area in Cedar Valley.

It’s the second cockfighting incident in Utah County in less than a week.

The alleged cock-fighting arena is pieced together with plywood. A lock and gate secure the large fenced in-parking lot.

When a tip lead investigators here Saturday night, the lot was full. Cheering and rooster crows heard coming from inside.

“The main part of the structure, inside there is where they had the arenas,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

Two large rings which are believed to be built for fighting were uncovered by investigators. A chicken foot sticking out from the dirt lead them to find two dozen dead roosters. Fifteen live birds were rescued.

“These guys knew, they knew the law. If they didn’t know having these organized cock fights was against the law, they wouldn’t do it out here. They’d do it in the middle of town,” said Cannon.

On May 10, 32-year-old Jose Meza-Basan was charged with felonies, accused of raising dozens of fighting chickens behind his Orem home. Some wore razor-sharp fighting spurs.

While not unheard of, investigators say, two major cock-fighting incidents are rare.

“I don’t, in my wildest imagination, see where people can get the entertainment value out of harming an animal,” Cannon said.

While unusual, investigators don’t believe the operations are related. In all, 36 people were arrested or cited for organizing or watching in the fighting.