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April 11, 2007

Cockfighting ring broken up

Computer, $13,000 in cash seized during law enforcement raid

While more than 200 people attended a local “sporting event” last weekend, it was not advertised, nor was it held within sight of the road.

Spectators and operators at an illegal cockfighting operation in the Bug Tussle community were surprised Saturday, when a group of eight sheriff’s deputies and other law-enforcement agents arrived on the scene at about 9:45 a.m.

In what Sheriff Tyler Roden described as a “raid,” they shut down the operation, seizing more than $13,000 cash and a computer used for registering participants.

On Wednesday, deputies followed up on the investigation, arresting 31-year-old Jason Lee Campbell of Nauvaoo. He allegedly ran the operation and was charged with keeping a cockpit and cockfighting.

Roden said more arrests could follow as names are extracted from the registry on the seized computer.

“There were cars with tags from all over the state and from Tennessee when we got there,” he said.

According to investigators, the facility was fairly extensive.

Hidden well behind a residence, off County Road 18, the barn housed stadium seating for about 150 people. It also boasted a concession stand and a large cockpit with caged sides.

Roden said spurs and dead roosters were also found on the scene.

Cockfighting, a sport that pits specially bred roosters against each other — often to the death — is illegal in Alabama.

The fine for cockfighting is low since the crime is only a misdemeanor offense. Lee, who posted a $1,000 bond the same day he was arrested, faces a maximum fine of $50, according to state law.

While no alcohol was present at the facility Saturday and attendees were cooperative, Roden said he made it clear to them that cockfighting at that location was going to stop.

“We all know what the fines are, but I also let them know the Internal Revenue Service would be very interested in how much of their earnings they are not paying taxes on.”

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