Derby season 'grand opening' for Guam's underground cockfights uncovered
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Throughout the month of January 2022 beginning New Year's Day, cockfights are scheduled to take place at the old game facility in Dededo, breaching the two-year-old federal ban on cockfighting throughout the nation, according to an animal rights group.
Animal Wellness Action (AWA) said it has obtained a secret schedule of cockfighting derbies to be hosted allegedly by the Dededo Game Club at The Dome, which was shut down when the federal ban on cockfighting went into effect in December 2019.
“The organizers of these planned cockfights are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. law,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of AWA. “They are disregarding and disrespecting the norms and the laws of a civil society.”
“The people organizing these fights should unwind their illegal plan of action,” he added. “If they do not, federal authorities should be present to arrest these lawbreakers.”
AWA said its source within the cockfighting community shared the cockfight schedule.
The biggest outlays of cash are set for Saturdays, with each entrant in a three-cock derby required to pay $600 into the pot, and with smaller pots for fights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, AWA said in a press release.
The schedule for cockfights describes a “grand opening” for the “Dededo Game Club,” which had been the main arena on Guam prior to the national ban on cockfighting taking effect on Dec. 20, 2019.
Congress amended the federal Animal Fighting law specifically to extend all prohibitions against cockfighting to Guam, Puerto Rico and the other territories.
Cockfighting interests challenged the constitutionality of the law, and several federal courts, including the U.S. District Court for Guam, ruled that the United States engaged in a proper exercise of its authority in imposing the ban. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirming that cockfighting is a crime everywhere in the country.
Earlier this year, AWA and Animal Wellness Foundation obtained yet more shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture revealing that illegal shipments of fighting birds continue.
Shipments of fighting birds increased 600 percent from the prior year – from 396 animals for all of 2020 to 1,340 for the first six months of 2021.
Cockfighters are on track to approach the shipment of nearly 3,000 fighting roosters for the year. AWA is requesting the latest shipping records from the department.
"Guam-based cockfighters haven’t been buying fighting animals from the mainland simply to burn their money, " Pacelle said. “They are buying birds to fight them and gamble on the bloodletting, and now we have sniffed out their plans at the Dededo Game Club.”
Of the 10,000 fighting birds shipped to Guam, according to shipping records of the Guam Department of Agriculture over the last four years, the top 10 importers of fighting animals on Guam received about 60 percent of the fighting birds. John Bottoms of Oklahoma has sold nearly 2,000 of them (one-fifth), while another 60 Americans sold the remainder of the birds. All of these individuals are steeped in the enterprise of cockfighting.