12 Arrested In Central Georgia Cockfighting Operation

Written By Sam Hollingsworth on June 27, 2023
Authorities recently broke up a massive cockfighting operation in Central Georgia.

A dozen people were arrested in Central Georgia after multiple search warrants were executed to reveal a sizable bird-fighting operation and other illegal activities (including gambling) taking place on a property in Jeff Davis County.

Carried out in early June by a total of 10 agencies that included the United States Department of Agriculture, the Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the raids that yielded the 12 arrests were dubbed “Operation Fowl Play” and were executed over a three-day span of which culminated after months of investigation. 

More arrests are expected soon.

Operation Fowl Play nets a dozen arrests along with a plethora of evidence

Of course, cockfighting is illegal in The Peach State, but so are many other forms of gambling. Georgia gambling consists of just Georgia Lottery ticket purchases and daily fantasy sports. Casino, sports betting and horse race wagering are all prohibited in Georgia.

Operation Fowl Play formally began in February, when the Jeff David Sheriff’s Office and the USDA began investigating cockfights in Hazlehurst. Officials were able to obtain droves of information in addition to specific locations for the cockfights. That included the names and identities of property owners, fight facilitators, bird handlers, spectators and more.

In all, the execution of the search warrants included three separate raids at three different sites that spanned two counties. The raids exposed several on-property locations that allegedly hosted the fights and also had a myriad of “chicken derby” supplies (another term for cockfighting competitions) like cockfighting tools, gamecock pens and cages, blind boxes, and even dead roosters. 

Officials searched over 10 acres

Agents scoured more than 10 acres of property to unveil the 100+ rooster pens and more than $90,000 in cash.

The primary venue of focus for the raid was the actual derby site, which included an advanced arena with stadium seating, two smaller side pits, an office with detailed ledgers and calendars, a weigh station, fighting board, and a concession stand. They even got a copy of the menu from the concession stand.

Additionally, agents also retrieved illegal firearms, a stolen firearm, ammunition, marijuana and paraphernalia, suspected methamphetamine, and were able to remove 28 guns from the possession of three convicted felons. 

Some people face charges unrelated to cockfighting

The 12 people arrested and their charges were:

  • Ricky Lamar Stone, 62, of Hazlehurst: aggravated animal cruelty x5, commercial gambling x5, with more charges pending.
  • Ramona Stone, 60, of Hazlehurst: parties to a crime of animal cruelty x5, parties to a crime of commercial gambling x5, possession of a scheduled 4 controlled substance.
  • Lowell Edward White, 61, of Baxley: cruelty to animals x5, commercial gambling x5, criminal solicitation.
  • Robert Newton White, 64, of Baxley: tampering with evidence, obstruction of law enforcement officer, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug-related objects, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, theft by receiving stolen property (firearm).
  • Jonah Caleb White, 21, of Baxley: tampering with evidence, obstruction of law enforcement officer.
  • Eddie Wayne Bush, 60, of Hazlehurst: aggravated cruelty to animals, commercial gambling.
  • Dallas Neil Spivey, 39, of Ambrose: parties to a crime of cruelty to animals x2, commercial gambling x2.
  • Justin Lewis Brown, 35, of Uvalda: parties to a crime of cruelty to animals, commercial gambling.
  • Kailey Nicole Rogers, 23, of Uvalda: parties to a crime of cruelty to animals, commercial gambling.
  • James Craig Scott, 64, of Alma: parties to a crime of cruelty to animals, parties to a crime of commercial gambling.
  • Haley Marie McKinnon, 23, of Hazlehurst: possession of fentanyl, tampering with evidence, possession of drug-related objects.
  • Cashus Jordan Crosby, 30, of Hazlehurst: possession of fentanyl, possession of drug-related objects. Crosby had an active arrest warrant for possession of methamphetamine, which was served at the time of his arrest.

Louisiana was the last US state to ban cockfighting

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 US states as well as all 16 US territories.

Despite it allegedly being widely popular in America many years ago – some people have even said that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson themselves fought roosters – that is no longer the case today.

That does not mean it doesn’t exist, here in the states and beyond.

It wasn’t that long ago when the fight-till-the-death “sport” was legal in some states, dating back as soon as 2007, when Louisiana finally banned it – the last state to do so. Puerto Rico, an unincorporated US territory, didn’t ban cockfighting until 2019 under increased pressure from US policymakers.

Not long after the US took over control of Puerto Rico in 1898 (at the end of the Spanish-American War via the Treaty of Paris), America imposed a 30-year prohibition of the brutal bird competitions in Puerto Rico. But that didn’t last, and many families continued to make their living from the sport there until the most-recent ban.

Gerardo Mora, a Puerto Rican government official, was upset about the ban and said so back in 2019.

“Cockfighting is a multi-million-dollar industry. Breeders, trainers, veterinarians, grain distributors, medication, spurs, cages. So, it’s lamentable that people who don’t understand Puerto Rico’s idiosyncrasies would, in the name of benevolence, make unjust decisions to eliminate our national sport.”

Mora regulated the island’s 64 licensed cockfighting arenas up until prohibition in the territory.

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