Norman Police Department Arrests Two Individuals Linked to Cockfighting Bust

In January, the Norman Police Department shut down a cockfighting operation at the 12200 block of Cedar Lane Road. Months later, the police arrested two individuals associated with the cockfighting bust.

The police arrested Arturo Garcia-Gonzales, 28, and Lauriza Ibarra Vera, 26, of 12251 Cedar Lane. The two individuals were charged with keeping equipment for cockfighting; instigating and encouraging cockfighting; owning, possessing, or training birds for cockfighting; and possession of a firearm after a conviction.

According to the arrest affidavit, animal welfare officers were summoned to the location after a report that said dogs were being kept in a barn that had caught fire. After arriving at the property, the officers asked Garcia-Gonzalez if they could search other buildings.

The officers found a square pit that they recognized as one used for cockfighting.

The report stated: “Next to the pit was equipment used to record cockfighting, scoped rifles, and gamecocks with their combs — the red fleshy tissue on a chicken’s skull — cut off. At that point, the search was stopped and a search warrant was obtained.”

The site was also described as having “deplorable conditions alongside evidence of brutal training and exploitation of the animals for fighting purposes.”

During the execution of the warrant, officers found 77 roosters as well as two sets of gaffs or knives used to attach to the legs of roosters, medication for treating roosters after fights, various guns, scales for weighing roosters, and a rooster dummy used for sparring. Officers also confiscated Garcia-Gonzalez’s phone which contained video evidence of cockfighting in the ring.

Kevin Chambers, Oklahoma State director for Animal Wellness Action, said he was surprised that the officers found a cockfighting pit. “A lot of people who raise fighting roosters don’t actually have a pit on their property,” he said.

Chambers claimed that he has helped bust a number of illegal cockfighting operations by seeking out cockfighting arenas around the state.

“Every weekend we get tips about what fights are going on, and we call the sheriffs. Even when we have the exact location, the sheriffs often find all kinds of excuses not to do anything about it,” he said. “I was impressed by the Norman Police. Some other places don’t seem to care.”

NPD spokesperson Sarah Schettler stated that the accused have been cooperative and that charges have been presented to the District Attorney’s Office.