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Suspect at center of cockfighting investigation taken into custody by ICE

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Neighbors woke up to a large police presence on the near southeast side early Friday morning.

Several investigators were called to a home in the 1700 block of Gimber Street in connection with an investigation into cockfighting.

219 birds were found on the property. Police said a family—two adults and three children—live in the residence. Pedro Torres-Torres was arrested and will face multiple felony charges.

Torres-Torres' had his initial appearance June 12th, but did not show up. He is now in the custody of ICE.

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, an anonymous tip led to the investigation.

According to court documents released by the Marion County Prosecutors office, officials had been tracking Torres-Torres for weeks. Officers tracked cars, installed police cameras near the home, and checked his garbage several times to find potential evidence. Officials say they watched Torres-Torres spar the birds and say he tried to make them more aggressive. Officers say the birds had been modified to help them last longer during a fight.

This is the first time in that last ten years that officials have had a cock fighting ring investigation in the Indianapolis metro area.  The commission is working with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to file charges in the case.

During cock fights, birds commonly suffer from injuries including punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes. Knives and long, dagger-like attachments are often used to maximize injury.

Investigators say they found knives and artificial gaffs—long, dagger-like attachments— attached to the birds legs to maximize injury. Often, steroids or other drugs are administered to the birds to make them more aggressive.

“This investigation further demonstrates the cruel and inhumane practice of cockfighting,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “No animal should be forced to fight to their death. The ASPCA is proud to be on the front line of tackling organized animal fighting in America and commends the Indiana Gaming Commission for their commitment to bringing this brutal sport to an end.”

257 birds are now in the care of Indianapolis Animal Care and Services. IACS says the birds are receiving medical evaluations but say it is too early to determine the outcome.

In Indiana, conducting a cockfight, as well as the possession of birds for fighting, are Level 6 felonies, each punishable by six months to three years in a state prison, as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. Being a spectator at a cockfight carries misdemeanor penalties.