Backyard cockfighting ring with admission charge busted by Tulare County deputies

Tulare County authorities are thanking an anonymous caller who reported a large cockfighting ring on Sunday.

Seventeen people were detained at a home near Lindsay, and three were ultimately arrested.

For whatever reason, Tulare County Sheriff's Lt. Kevin Kemmerling says cockfights usually take place on Sundays. So it's unclear whether the event near Lindsay was designed to be a pre-Super Bowl party.

Kemmerling says if someone hadn't reported it, there could have been many more dead birds.

"This one was interesting because it's the first time in my career that it's actually been held at a residence," Kemmerling said. "And it seemed like it was pretty sophisticated, so much so that the attendees and the spectators were issued out wristbands. So they were being charged $10 a head at the door."

When deputies arrived at around noon, people ran from the backyard. That's where the ring was located, as well as 25 birds, and six dead ones in a pit.

Deputies also found gaffs, cash, and fight cards. Fourteen people were cited for watching the fight, and five are also accused of resisting arrest.
The people who lived at the house were arrested on animal cruelty charges. They include Victor Espinoza, Ofelia Espinoza, and their son, Victor Espinoza Jr.

"They were mostly cooperative," Kemmerling said. "Deputies did a great job with the investigation on this case and the evidence that was located at the scene was overwhelming against them."

Kemmerling says Tulare County animal control took the live birds from the property.
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