RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A man who was accused of operating a large-scale cockfighting ring in Jurupa Valley was sentenced to 16 months in jail Wednesday after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Filiberto Ruezga, 62, was one of three men charged with running the operation.

Ruezga’s younger brother, Martin Lujano Ruezga and his 26-year-old grandson, Miguel Angel Ruezga, were arrested in February as part of a a joint sting conducted by the Riverside County Department of Animal Services and Sheriff’s Department.

Filiberto Ruezga was charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty and one felony count of bookmaking, as well as two misdemeanor counts of possessing illegal cockfighting implements. His brother and grandson pleaded guilty earlier this year to similar charges and received similar sentences.

The trio is slated to return to court next Wednesday to surrender and begin serving their sentences.

The defendants had more than 70 gamecocks on their property in the 4000 block of Kenneth St., according to Animal Services officials.

Authorities raided the location on Feb. 12 while a cockfight was under way.

The roosters were impounded and later euthanized.

The gamecocks were forced to battle on a roughly 10-foot by 10-foot platform, Department of Animal Services Public Information Officer John Welsh said.

Several dozen men watching the contest were detained and cited.

The defendants were ordered to demolish and remove all the cockfighting structures on the property, according to sheriff’s officials.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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