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Man charged after Harford County deputies bust suspected cockfighting ring, euthanize 200+ birds

Jose Luis Lopez-Villalba
Posted at 12:54 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2022-05-26 15:27:04-04

STREET, Md. — Docile birds by their very nature, you can find plenty of chickens in rural Harford County, but nothing like the operation linked to 41-year-old Jose Luis Lopez-Villalba discovered on land he rented behind this house on Madonna Road in Street, Maryland.

“So they came to the property. They would bring big groups up there for these different events and they had 203 birds that were being housed there that were being trained there,” said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, “There was actually a pit for the fights that they placed there was a training puppet that they had.”

Investigators also found evidence the roosters among the flock had been “dubbed”, which is a term used for removing their comb, wattles and earlobes about their heads so they wouldn’t bleed profusely during fights.

According to charging documents, the suspect admitted he had prompted birds to touch noses and charge each other, but denied he had engaged in cockfighting, which carries some serious charges including aggravated animal cruelty.

“There are two felony charges related to what he’s been charged with, and in addition to that, which I find certainly interesting, because in some jurisdictions, you’re not going to know this, but when this individual was arrested, in addition to having a detainer for him, I believe it was the Charles County Sheriff’s Office that has a detainer, Immigration and Custom Enforcement has also filed a detainer for him,” said Gahler.

“So he was in the country illegally?” we asked.

“He was overdue on his visa by a significant portion of time,” Gahler responded, “He had stayed in our country past the time he was supposed to have departed.”

Because of their physical condition and training to be aggressive, the chickens could not be mingled with other flocks and, thus, had to be euthanized.