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Man headed to trial for cockfighting

VICTORVILLE • A Baldy Mesa man was ordered to stand a trial Thursday after San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials broke up a cockfight at his Baldy Mesa home.

After a preliminary hearing, Judge Eric Nakata ruled there was probable cause to believe Fernando Guadalupe Hernandez, 62, committed felony animal cruelty, which carries a maximum prison term of three years.

Deputies responded to Hernandez’s property in the 9000 block of Hollister Road in January after they were tipped off by an anonymous source about a possible cockfighting event.

Dozens of cars were parked on the property, and sheriff’s officials estimated 300 people were attending the event. Most of the spectators were able to flee when deputies showed up, but officials still detained and arrested 47 people.

The cockfighting ring was set up in a barn on the property, which is about three to five acres, Deputy Justin Howe testified. The barn had a walled arena in the middle as well as spectator bleachers and a concession stand.

Deputies seized a total of 93 roosters and $21,000 in cash and found other cockfighting paraphernalia, such as gaffs, knives and cages. Howe said dead birds were lying around on the ground.

Howe returned to the property the next day and interviewed Hernandez. The defendant said he was in Mexico when the raid happened and didn’t know cockfighting was taking place on his property.

Hernandez said he owned a second house in Los Angeles, and multiple tenants lived on his Baldy Mesa property, according to Howe. If there was any cockfighting going on, it was hosted by his brother who lived there, the defendant said.

But the defendant’s son told investigators that he had been warning his father not to hold cockfighting because it’s illegal and dangerous, according to Howe. Moreover, Hernandez was shaken down to pay a “tax” and needed money, his son told Howe.

The judge ordered Hernandez to return to Victorville court Thursday for arraignment. Hernandez was out of custody on his own recognizance, and the judge retained that status.

Stanley Hodge, Hernandez’s attorney, advised his client not to talk to the media after the hearing.

Although cockfighting is illegal in the United States, it’s still a mainstream sport in some parts of the world such as Mexico and the Philippines.

“I don’t see any chicken producers or egg producers being prosecuted for their way of treating animals,” Hodge said. “It’s a cultural problem.”

Of the 47 arrested, Hernandez and three others were charged with felonies, while the rest were charged with a misdemeanor of being a spectator. The spectators came from all over Southern California including Oak Hills, Phelan, Little Rock, Temecula and Van Nuys.

Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or Follow Tomoya on Facebook at

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