10 men charged in Howard County cockfighting case

Top row: (From left) Angel Gutierrez, Eduardo Alcantar, Gustavo Renteria Garcia, Jesus Serrano...
Top row: (From left) Angel Gutierrez, Eduardo Alcantar, Gustavo Renteria Garcia, Jesus Serrano Sanchez, Jorge Rodriguez Bottom row: (From left) Jose Reyes Jiminez, Martin Montelongo, Victor Mora, Ruben Mess Puentes, Ernesto Ceballos Lopez(Hall County Department of Corrections/Merrick County Sheriff's Office/KSNB)
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 11:29 AM CST
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HOWARD COUNTY, Neb. (KSNB) - The Howard County Attorney has charged 10 men with cockfighting.

The Howard County Sheriff arrested them Dec. 17 at a rural location about 15 miles north of Grand Island.

Cockfighting, is a felony which includes promoting, working at or witnessing a cock fight. State statute defines the crime as animals being made to fight each other, which can include dogs, chickens and bearbaiting. According to online dictionary definitions, bearbaiting is the practice of one or more dogs attacking a chained bear.

The max penalty for a conviction for cockfighting is three years in prison, 18 months probation and a $10,000 fine. Each will appear before a judge in Howard County next month.

Howard County Sheriff Tom Busch said deputies received a 911 call about illegal gambling activity involving roosters in rural Howard County and investigated the report, along with Nebraska Games and Parks, at around 4:30 p.m. last Saturday. A search warrant was obtained for the property.

Busch said when deputies arrived on scene, they saw only two vehicles in the driveway near the house. But more were behind the building and deputies saw people trying to leave.

He did say two vehicles were able to get out before law enforcement was able to block the area.

Seven of the men charged are Grand Island residents:

  • Eduardo Alcantar
  • Jose Reyes Jiminez
  • Ernesto Ceballos Lopez
  • Martin Montelongo
  • Victor Mora
  • Jorge Rodriguez
  • Jesus Serrano Sanchez

The Howard County Attorney also charged Ruben Mess Puentes of Wood River, Gustavo Renteria Garcia of Palmer and Angel Gutierrez of Chapman.

Busch said there was a large amount of money on the suspects, but did not specify the exact amount.

He said deputies found seven roosters, one of which later died from injuries during one of the fights. He said the roosters were taken to an off-site location, where they will be cared for until the court cases are over and they get guidance on what’s to be done with them.

Busch said he’s been in the position since 2010 and this was the first case of illegal gambling with animals.