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Cockfighting, drug ring busted in Pierce County

Investigators said Friday that they’d busted a criminal ring that was running a cockfighting, methamphetamine and marijuana operation at a home near Kapowsin in southeastern Pierce County.

Sheriff’s detectives found an active meth lab and hundreds of marijuana plants on a 4-acre property tucked off Meridian Avenue East, spokesman Ed Troyer said. They also seized stolen property, confiscated two assault rifles and captured at least 51 fighting roosters, Troyer said.

Investigators arrested a 38-year-old man after the morning raid in the 32400 block of Meridian Avenue East. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of several drug charges, possession of stolen property, animal fighting and professional gambling.

Detectives were looking for at least one other person and say more arrests could be made as the investigation continues.

“We believe they were manufacturing and selling marijuana and meth and fighting animals,” Troyer said. “Right now, we know who the organizers are. There could be other people that we may go after that were out there gambling, too.”

Officers from the Sheriff’s Department, Seattle police, the state Gambling Commission and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department spent several hours on the property, documenting evidence, dismantling the drug-making operations and rounding up and removing the roosters. Animal control officers from Tacoma and Lakewood also helped out.

The raid began as a search for illegal weapons, Troyer said.

“It snowballed into this,” he said.

Sheriff’s SWAT and meth lab teams serving a search warrant at the property found roosters and chickens, some in cages and others tied to posts. Investigators also found a fire pit and the ring where they believe the cockfights took place.

Illegal cockfighting might have been taking place at the property for some time, according to court documents.

A woman granted a domestic-violence protection order against the man arrested Friday wrote in a sworn affidavit filed in December that the man “was planning cockfights in the house” at that time.

The bust was not related to another cockfighting ring broken up in the Seattle area this week, Troyer said.

According to KIRO-TV Eyewitness News, 13 people there face criminal charges connected to a cockfighting ring operating near the new light rail line on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268

stacey.mulick@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/crime

Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.

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