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Officer’s phone call leads to largest animal fighting ring bust in state history

What became the largest animal fighting ring bust in state history started with a phone call from an officer working on a separate investigation nearby, records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show.

From a neighboring apartment complex, the officer spotted several roosters tethered to a stump about 9 a.m. in a yard at 4729 Stanley Ave., according to arrest records. Tethering birds near one another is used to build aggression and teach them to fight, police said.

The officer first reached out Clark County Animal Control for help in evaluating the possible animal fighting operation. After animal control responded, the agency confirmed the Metropolitan Police Department should respond to the scene.

Two men, Javier Salgado and Silvester Gayton, were each arrested Aug. 3 in connection with the breeding operation and charged with owning roosters related to fighting, a felony in Nevada. About 600 birds were recovered.

Salgado and Gayton, who weren’t home at the time of the initial response, owned two properties that were connected by a gate. When Salgado arrived home, he let Metro detectives onto his property to look at his roosters.

Medications used to treat injuries and promote bird growth were found in a refrigerator. Most of the roosters also had the fleshy areas on their heads and below their beaks cut off, which police said is commonly done in cockfighting so they bleed less during fights.

Detectives also found straps used for attaching blades to the roosters’ legs and a treadmill, enclosed with a makeshift cardboard pen meant to force the birds to exercise.

More than $17,000 was found in a bedroom.

Salgado told investigators he raised the fowl as show birds, adding that he breeds and sells them to buyers primarily in Mexico, where he would ship them by mail.

During the search, seven puppies on the property died.

Police said a cooling system installed in the kennel may have malfunctioned during the day and that the dogs probably died from heat exposure.

Detectives are still investigating the scope of the fighting operation.

“This isn’t done in a vacuum,” Detective Robert Sigal said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Find @BlakeApgarLVon Twitter.

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