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No ringleader identified yet in cockfighting bust near Louisville, prosecutor says

November 28, 2018

Investigators have not yet identified who led the cockfighting ring in a Louisville barn that was busted by law enforcement over the weekend, Cass County Attorney Colin Palm said.

So far, Palm has charged the 30 men and two women arrested with being witnesses to animal fighting. They appeared in Cass County Court in Plattsmouth on Tuesday.

None of the 32 people arrested were from Cass County, said Capt. Dave Lamprecht of the sheriff’s office.

One of them lived in Lincoln, according to court records.

Working on an anonymous tip about a cockfight, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol and Nebraska Humane Society went to the farm at 11317 Nebraska 50 on Saturday afternoon, according to a news release.

The property owners, who were not arrested, told deputies they had “no clue” why there were so many cars there and gave law enforcement permission to search.

As investigators approached the barn, numerous people came out of the barn and started running, the release said. Officers detained as many people as they could.

“Many got away in the fields to the north and east of the property,” Cass County Sheriff William Brueggemann said in the release.

Inside the barn, investigators found a fighting pen, 11 dead roosters and 186 live roosters.

Many of the birds had fresh wounds, and one injured rooster needed to be euthanized, the sheriff reported.

Deputies also found cash and gambling sheets on those arrested, the release said.

In cockfighting, owners attach blades to the birds’ feet so they can slash opposing birds as the crowds cheer and exchange wagers.

Palm said many of those arrested aren’t talking with investigators, which has hindered their ability to determine who led the event.

Under Nebraska law, promoting animal fighting and being a spectator at an animal fight are the same offense. But Palm said uncovering who organized the cockfighting will factor in at sentencing.

The crime is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Saturday’s bust wasn’t the first high-profile incident there, Lamprecht said.

Four years ago, a 23-year-old man was shot in the same barn following a rave party there that drew an estimated 3,000 people, according to media reports.

A Nebraska Humane Society official said this week that it’s taking eight employees to properly care for the 186 roosters seized.

“We’re taking care of the birds, but it’s a massive effort,” Humane Society vice president Mark Langan said. “It takes at least eight employees to properly clean the cages, feed and water the birds.”

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