NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --PSPCA and Philadelphia police officers responded to the scene of a suspected cockfighting operation in North Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon.
SPCA investigators stumbled onto the alleged cockfighting operation after conducting a separate investigation on the 2800 block of North Lee Street.
Detectives found 36 birds in the basement, 14 of them ready for battle.
"These birds are actually fighting birds, cones and waddles removed, chest shaved; there's no other purpose for that, but to fight them," George Bengal from the Pennsylvania SPCA said.
Action News was on the scene as the alleged owner of the operation, Juan Rodriguez, arrived home from work.
He was later arrested and charged with more than a dozen felony counts of Possessing Fighting Birds.
"It's a shock. They are working people. I would never have expected it," neighbor Gloria Torres said.
"There's quite a bit of money to be made. It usually doesn't rise to the level of dogs, but it comes pretty close - especially with an operation like this. These birds are some quality fighting birds. If I had to guess, a lot of these were probably imported from Puerto Rico," Bengal said.
Cockfighting is legal and a celebrated sport in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean nations.
It's big business and a sport that garners heavy betting.
The home on Lee Street had at cockpit in the basement where investigators say the birds would duel.
But in Pennsylvania, cockfighting is illegal and considered inhumane so Rodriguez will be spending the night in jail.
"This was, in my opinion, a pretty high end fighting operation," Bengal said.
The SPCA says the 14 birds in fighting condition will have to be put down.
The remaining birds will be sent to a farm.