UTAH COUNTY, Utah, May 20, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah County Sheriff’s Office uncovered two cockfighting operations in just six days, officials said Thursday.
Detectives and deputies with the UCSO discovered two separate cockfighting operations between May 10 and May 15, said a news release. One was located in Orem city, on Geneva Road, while the other one was near a location called Yellowbrush Well, along 18150 West, near Allen’s Ranch Road in Cedar Valley.
“In the Orem case, detectives obtained a search warrant for a home on Geneva Road,” the news release said. “During the process of serving that search warrant they found dozens of cages and roosters used for illegal cockfighting operations. They also found dozens of baby chickens believed to be part of this ongoing cockfighting organization.
“Part of this cockfighting operation included razor sharp spurs that are attached to the legs of the roosters with the intent of the spurs causing serious injury or death to other roosters. Possession of this kind of spurs for this purpose is a felony.”
Detectives found only one person at the home they believed to be responsible for the cockfighting operation. This man, Jose Arturo Meza-Basan, 32, of Orem, also had a false identification card and a false U.S. Social Security card with his name on them. Meza-Basan was arrested and booked into jail on third-degree felony charges of possession of forged documents and aggravated cruelty to animals. He has since posted $5,000 bond and been released from jail. The roosters and baby chickens were impounded.
In the other case, deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office received a third-party report that a large group of people was gathered at a building near 3100 South 18150 West, at a location called Yellowbrush Well.
“When deputies arrived they saw a large number of cars inside a closed fence,” the news release said. “Inside that area was an unfinished building made largely of plywood. They could hear the sound of roosters crowing and people yelling and cheering. A man came out to talk to him and at the same time the deputy saw multiple people run from the opposite side of the building.”
The deputy applied for and was granted a search warrant for the property. When they entered the building, they found two “rings” on the ground made with walls about two feet high, the news release said. Outside the building, they saw a disturbed area in the dirt and noticed what appeared to be a chicken foot protruding from the ground. They picked it up and it was a dead rooster. Digging up the pit, they found a total of 24 dead roosters.
They also found 15 live chickens. The live chickens were impounded.
In this case, four men received misdemeanor citations for cruelty to animals. A total of 31 men received misdemeanor citations for attendance at animal fights. All 35 men were released after being issued citations. The deputy investigating this case said the building where the illegal cockfighting operation was taking place was built specifically for the purpose of cockfighting.
While investigators do not know for sure, they have no evidence at this time that these two cockfighting operations are connected to one another.
“At the Utah County Sheriff’s Office we don’t come across these kinds of operations very often,” the news release said. “So it is unusual to come across two such operations in a period of just six days.”