WAVELAND and AVON, Ind. – Authorities carried out separate raids Wednesday in Montgomery and Hendricks counties as part of an investigation into cockfighting.
"Those are not egg laying chickens. They are not eating chickens what other use for them," said neighbor Steve Miller.
The Indiana Gaming Commission spearheaded the operation with help from local police. Authorities said they found more than 600 birds at the location in Waveland and described the cockfighting ring as the largest in state history.
Investigators also found a fighting pit at the Waveland address, which they said marks the first time they’ve found one of those in connection with this type of investigation.
"Pretty loud. I had no idea how many were over there. Thought it was like 50 birds but you say 600!? Oh my gosh," said Miller.
Authorities said the ring has been operating in Montgomery County for a few years and the people behind it have “been on the radar” for some time.
Investigators found 150 birds at the Avon location but said the two cockfighting rings were not connected and operated independently from one another.
“People do not want animal fighting in their communities. Every time the IGC is able to shut down an operation like this, it raises awareness about animal fighting and we see an increase in reports from the public,” said Superintendent Rob Townsend of the Indiana Gaming Commission. “It was a tip from a concerned citizen that allowed us to begin this investigation.”
Birds forced into cockfighting often have knives or dagger-like attachments connected to them to maximize injuries. These items were found during this investigation, officials said.
"The birds have been modified and prepared to fight and we are also finding other types of paraphernalia that is associated with types of animal fighting," said Supt. Rob Townsend of the Indiana Gaming Commission.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says cockfighting is often connected to other crimes including gambling and drug possession.
At this point, investigators said they haven’t made any arrests or filed any charges.
"There are other crimes that usually is attached to that and involved in other criminal enterprises. So it is not just one thing, there is usually a network of criminal relation and criminal activity that goes down with it," said Supt. Townsend.