By Gary Nelson

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – About 200 people were arraigned Friday on charges that they participated in illegal cockfighting.

Officials busted what is being called by police the largest cockfighting bust in Miami-Dade County’s history in April.

According to court documents, police seized $168,000 in cash. Some defendants were carrying tens of thousands of dollars on them.

There was standing room only in the courtroom Friday as many of the defendants entered plea deals.

Some of the defendants wanted to fight the charges saying that participating in cockfighting was no worse than horse-racing.

“They whoop the horses they burn them they give them a little tattoo they burn to the butt,” said Francisco Benitez. “There was no cruelty.”

Prosecutors countered that horses don’t fight to the death.

Some defendant’s attorneys plan to challenge the Constitutionality of the law that allows spectators at cockfights to be charged.

“Under this statute, if two birds at Parrot Jungle get into a bit of a row, and you’re watching this, you could be susceptible to being prosecuted for this,” said Kenneth Wiseman.

Those that took a plea deal will pay fines, make a donation to the humane society and eventually have their records expunged.

Those that did not take plea deals plan to go to court and if convicted could face up to 5 years in jail.



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