Cockfighting Suspect Arrested in Phoenix; 77 Roosters Euthanized by Humane Society After Ex-Wife Reports Crime

Apparently, Leyva didn't learn his lesson. And he got no respect as King of the Roost -- his ex-wife turned him in, according to court documents.


After the divorce, the ex-wife ended up with the property and called the Humane Society, says Officer Luis Samudio, a Phoenix police spokesman.

The 2004 conviction, records state, followed Leyva's hosting of a cockfight in his mechanic shop on the same property -- his residence for 30 years.

Cops arrested Leyva on Saturday evening in Phoenix after a traffic stop and seek a charge of felony cockfighting.

Arizona voters banned cockfighting in a 1998 ballot initiative. Attending a cockfight in the state is a misdemeanor, while owning fighting birds and hosting cockfights is a felony.

Despite the penalties, the "sport" survives underground thanks to its legions of bloodthirsty fans, (who include former New Times writer David Holthouse, judging by his April 13, 2000 column on the subject). In Hawaii, legislators even recently considered a resolution that would have recognized cockfighting as a "cultural activity," despite the state's ban.

Cockfighting "goes hand in hand with other crimes," according to a Web page of the Humane Society of the United States.

Yet the Arizona Humane Society routinely sends out specially qualified employees to scenes like Leyva's property, says the organization's spokeswoman, Kimberly Seales.

Most of those employees have some training in animal medicine and conducting abuse investigations, she says. Seales didn't have specific details about the Leyva investigation, saying she'd call back later if she learned more.

Seales says the Humane Society investigators are called "officers" within the organization, and Seales calls them officers several times during her phone conversation with New Times. She insists, however, that the employees "don't flash a badge, don't represent themselves as officers" when they go out to a suspected crime scene like Leyva's.

"There is a risk involved," she says, adding that she's not aware of any violent situation the "officers" have been in.

You'd think they'd at least where gaffe-proof vests.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.