A 74-year-old Ceres resident pleaded guilty Friday in Fresno federal court to operating a cockfighting and fighting-bird breeding business, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release.
According to court documents, Joseph D. Sanford bred and sold gamecocks for cockfighting at his central California game farm and also fought his own roosters.
Following the undercover purchase of a trio of fighting game birds, federal agents searched Joe Sanford Gamefarm and found a cockfighting enterprise with nearly 3,000 birds.
In pleading guilty, Sanford admitted to shipping gamefowl inside the U.S. and to Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines for cockfighting.
Sanford is scheduled for sentencing on March 11, 2022. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
‘No Place in Society for Animal Fighting’
“The gruesome act of animal fighting has no place in a civilized society and will not be tolerated,” said Dusty Cladis, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General.
“Our agency has prioritized dismantling animal fighting organizations as we continue to pursue those who would take pleasure and profit in inflicting misery and death upon these defenseless creatures.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.