Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions

Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-09-19
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions
Unit 2 Recording: Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions
Unit 3 Workbook: Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions

People, especially those living in the cities are not aware that cockfighting continues to exist to this day. It is prevalent especially in more rural and secluded areas – where the breeding, training, conditioning, and fighting tend to take place.

On this webinar, Justice Clearinghouse employed the help of Senior Deputy Richard Samuels and Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch to discuss cockfighting. Richard is affiliated with Spotsylvania County Animal Control Division in Virginia for the last 19 years. Considered an expert in the field – he’s been involved in hundreds of animal fighting cases working undercover and as an expert witness in trials. Meanwhile, Michelle is the Director of the Animal Law Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. She is Virginia’s main resource on all of the state’s animal law-related topics and cases. She is also is appointed as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to aid in animal fighting prosecution.

We will be going on a deep-dive on cockfighting and the investigations and prosecution being done to put a stop on this barbaric practice. Topics discussed in this session are:

  • The different entities and resources that work together with law enforcement, their tasks and contribution in animal fighting cases.
  • The different maps utilized to get the most updated and accurate look into properties where cockfighting operations occur.
  • The critical role played by social media platform Facebook during the investigation:
    • Creating a Facebook profile for the individual who’ll do undercover work.
    • Guidelines on the information and content to be used for an undercover persona.
    • A walkthrough on the process of issuing a Facebook preservation and disclosure order.
  • Things to cover in order to obtain a probable cause.
    • Familiarizing with cockfighting culture, terminologies, and practices.
    • Reviewing existing legislation within the jurisdiction when going on transactions with the cockfighters.
    • Use of high-powered optics, the equipment legally allowed to be used, and what to look for.
    • Going on air surveillance, ensuring to not violate rights by staying within the fly threshold, details to take note of during surveillance, and how to secure an appointment for one.
  • Pointers when it comes to mapping the property for a search.
    • Using GIS maps to see the accurate boundaries and description of the property.
    • Using Zillow.com to catch a glimpse of the interior of the property, see its value and its listed owner.
    • The help that the State Police may extend with their surveillance tools and equipment.
  • The importance of practicing discretion when it comes to the people you will be dealing and connecting with.
  • Satellite maps and aerial surveillance snapshots that demonstrate how these helped immensely during investigations.
  • Other considerations to take into account when working on cockfighting investigations:
    • Taking advantage of zoning violations and tax evasion charges, if applicable.
    • Reviewing the size of the property to ensure that a thorough search is conducted.
    • Checking on structures in and around the property for features that may pose as potential hazards.
    • Tips on conducting productive interviews through non-accusatorial questions, watching for body language, utilizing ruses, strategic use of breaks, and remembering to read their rights.
  • During the Q&A, Richard and Michelle clarified inquires on:
    • Coordinating with specialized task forces over cases linked with gangs and cartels.
    • The prevalence of cockfighting and terminologies used.
    • Training required and available for undercover work.
    • Dealing with cases where government officials are entangled and may be implicated in the controversy.

 

Audience Comments:

  • “List of Resources was the most valuable thing I learned from this webinar. All too often we fly solo as an Animal Control Agency where I think we should be addressing things with multiple agencies.” — Angel
  • “All around, great basic information for a topic that is prevalent yet there are no a lot of resources for .” –Chris
  • “Such great tips for the preliminaries to executing a cock (or other animal) fighting search warrant.” — Marilyn

 

 


 

 

The National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse was established by the National Sheriffs’ Association to provide law enforcement officers information on the realities of animal abuse and to promote their proactive involvement in the enforcement of animal abuse laws in their communities. Through our partners, the Center will serve as an information clearinghouse and forum for law enforcement on the growing problem of animal abuse and its link to other types of crimes, including violence against humans. The Center also promotes officer safety in officer-dog encounters through continuing education and training.

 

 

 

 

The National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) was formed in 1978 for the express purpose of assisting its members to perform their duties in a professional manner. We believe only carefully selected and properly trained animal control personnel can correct community problems resulting from irresponsible animal ownership. NACA’s purpose is to preserve the Human/Animal Bond by insisting on responsible animal ownership.

 

 


 

Additional Resources
3 months ago
After the Webinar: Advanced Cockfighting Investigations & Prosecutions. Q&A with the Presenters.
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