18 indicted in Oregon/Wash. cockfighting ring

DEPT. OF JUSTICE NEWS RELEASE -- A federal grand jury has indicted 18 defendants on various charges in connection with a cockfighting operation in Irrigon, Oregon, involving ten "derbies" occurring from April 1, 2012, through May 19, 2013.

Arrests on the charges occurred today at various sites in Oregon and Washington. Those arrested in Oregon are scheduled to appear for arraignment before a federal magistrate judge in Portland on Friday, August 16, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. Those arrested in Washington will appear for arraignment before a federal magistrate judge in Yakima, Washington.

Six individuals are charged with operating an illegal gambling business:

John Wesley Walker, 67, of Irrigon;
Irina Walker (aka Irina Kreuger), 60, of Irrigon;
Mario Perez (aka El Cuba), 62, of Hermiston, Oregon;
David Sanchez, 29, of Irrigon;
Jose Luis Virgen Ramirez, 48, of Hermiston; and
Aurelia Garcia Mendoza, 33, of Irrigon.

These six persons are also charged, along with 12 others, with conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act by conducting unlawful animal fighting ventures on ten occasions.

The additional defendants are:

Apolinar Munoz Gutierrez (aka Polo), 37, of Irrigon;
Cecilio Mendoza Magana, 63, of Kennewick, Washington;
Mauro Gonzalez Pulido (aka Cala), 47, of Zillah, Washington;
Ruben Saltos Godina (aka Chino), 42, of Moxee, Washington;
Arturo Olmedo Silva (aka El Havolin, Cepillo), 45, of Hermiston;
Eduardo Cisneros (aka Mariachi), 27, of Sunnyside, Washington;
Eulalio Delamora Anguiano (aka Lalo), 44 of Moxee, Washington;
Francisco Javier Vega (aka Sergio Gonzalez Manzano), 39, of Plymouth, Washington;
Oscar Acosta Navarrete, 46, of Prosser, Washington;
Antonio Dominguez Robles (aka Tono, Memo), 37, of Pasco, Washington;
Gerardo Gomez Castillo (aka Aguilo), 54, of Wapato, Washington; and
Valente Piedra Magana, 38, of Union Gap, Washington.

Click here to read the indictment {>}{>}

"Cockfighting is illegal under federal law and under the laws of all 50 states," Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, stated. "Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts," she added.

Each of the charged offenses - illegal gambling (one count), unlawful animal fighting venture (ten counts), and conspiracy (one count) - carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The indictment also alleges that, upon conviction of illegal gambling, defendants John Wesley Walker and Irina Walker are subject to the forfeiture of their real property and buildings used in the gambling business, located on Depot Lane in Irrigon, Morrow County, Oregon.

A copy of the 12-count indictment is attached. An indictment is a charging instrument only, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Oregon State Police, the Washington State Gaming Commission, and the Blue Mountain (Oregon) Narcotics Team. The case is being prosecuted in Oregon by Assistant U. S. Attorney Stephen F. Peifer.