42 have wings clipped by state police in Herkimer County bird-fighting sting

Published Jun 19, 2017 at 4:00pm

TOWN OF FRANKFORT — A cock-fighting exhibition— including a fighting area and a breeding farm — was busted in Herkimer County on Saturday.

A total of 42 men and women, mostly from Utica, were taken into custody in the sting operation, according to state police.

Search warrants were executed at Mr. P’s Landscaping on Saturday at 2308 Higby Road, troopers said.

They located the cock-fighting area in one of the barns and seized 55 game birds and over $68,000 in cash, authorities said. The bust was the result of a six-month investigation.

Three ounces of heroin were also found in a vehicle parked at the barn, authorities stated.

Troopers said a second barn housed a game bird breeding and training facility, where 180 birds were seized. All of the animals were turned over to the Herkimer County Humane Society.

One man, 27-year-old Tanner M. Pagan, of 110 Clarion Drive, Whitesboro, was charged with spectating at an animal fighting event, a misdemeanor, troopers said.

The other 41 people have been charged with engaging in animal fighting for amusement, a felony, troopers stated.

Included in the group is Patrick Samson, 65, the resident at 2308 Higby Road, Frankfort, authorities said.

Charged from Utica: Marcelino Burgos, 65; Jose L. Morlas-Ortiz, 34; Gilberto Taveras, 32; Arnaldo R. Santiago, 35; Jose Garcia, 44; Joel Mateo, 31; Jose J. Morales, 37; Kevin I. Perez, 25; Jorge L. Mateo, 65; Mario L. Mateo, 31; Radhames Perez, 37; Carlos J. Gonzalez, 38; Joshua E. Cirino, 25; Luis A. Rodriguez, 19; Daniel A. Santiago, 37; Jaime Mateo, 61; Diiomedes R. Taveras, 51; Luis D. Rivera, 30; Emmanuel Gomez, 29.

The other 22 suspects were from Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, New York City, and one man from West Virginia, according to state police.

Several of the men were also charged with possession of either heroin or marijuana, troopers said.

Samson and four other men were arraigned in Town Court and were sent to Herkimer County Jail in lieu of bail. The others were released on appearance tickets for court.

Troopers said the investigation is continuing.