MIAMI (CBSMiami) — One by one, the approximately 200 people arrested as part of a massive cockfighting bust are getting out of jail.
Hundreds of people face felony charges that include animal cruelty, gambling and drug posession.
Family members waited for more than 15 hours for relatives to get out. Many say they believe the arrests are bogus because cockfighting should not be considered a crime.
“Everyone’s waiting for their family like nothing is wrong because to them they’re not doing anything wrong, they’re just fighting animals,” said Eddy Dominguez who waited for his brother to get released. “To us this is a natural tradition, we’ve been doing this our whole lives and if you look into it, american history, our founding fathers fought roosters… in Cuba, Venezuela we will be fighting roosters forever. ”
Miami-Dade detectives said they executed a search warrant at around 4:30 PM Thursday at 25425 SW 212 Avenue as part of an ongoing investigation and discovered a large, operational cockfighting ring, in-progress.
“There was an active fight between two roosters going on, we found several roosters dead and all of the people on the scene actually participating in the rooster fighting,” said Major Ariel Artime with the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Francisco Ruiz Arias is accused of running the show. He shouted “long live the roosters” in Spanish after he bonded out of jail Friday afternoon.
The 48-year-old told police he’s an electrician but, according to police, he was making money by charging people to watch the fight and bet on them. He’s also accused of allowing gambling on baccarat and dominoes.
Ana Blanco is the bail bondswoman who got some of the cockfight spectators out of jail.
“It was a very big bust—I think it was a 200 arrest—and the jail, there’s chaos here,” said Blanco.
More than 150 of the spectators were actually charged.
“Some are first time offenders, some are not, and some were arrested for the cockfighting and for possession of weapons, drugs,” said Blanco.
Some of those arrested returned to pick up their cars, or sent family or friends, Friday and most did not want to talk to the camera.
On top of the charges Arias is facing, he will have to pay for the care of the roosters.
According to Miami-Dade Police, authorities began investigating the operation several weeks ago after receiving a tip about narcotic sales and gambling.
During the raid Thursday, police said they found between 30 and 50 caged roosters, many were already dead. There was a full-scale fighting ring set up inside an illegally built structure on the property, according to investigators. Thousands of dollars, drugs and firearms were confiscated.
Police described the cockfighting operation as one of the largest that investigators have ever seen.
County records show the 4,454 square foot home on the property is owned by Alejandro Queupumil. His connections to the case is unclear.