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HOUSTON A Santa Fe man could be facing anywhere from two to five years behind bars for his alleged role in a cockfighting operation.

Investigators said it took place on the outskirts of Santa Fe, in rural Galveston County, at a place called Oleander Farms.

This is a major cockfighting operation, said John Goodwin, the director of animal cruelty policy for the Humane Society of the United States. They run full-page ads in the underground magazines, and the name Oleander Farms has been prominent in cockfighting circles going back to the 1950s.

Police said the man behind it all is 66-year-old Jimmy Lee Bradshaw, who denies raising birds to fight.

Hell, no, Bradshaw said. They outlawed that years ago. All you re doing, if you cockfight, is you mistreat your supper, but I don t participate in it. I m too old and too worn out.

That said, he s apparently not too old and worn out to care for some 300 birds.

His birds are healthy birds and he as a good reason for that, said Galveston Police Lt. Joel Caldwell of the Department. That s his livelihood. That s his stock, and the more healthy they are, the more money they bring him.

Caldwell said they bring as much as $600 each. The multi-agency raid also turned up cockfighting paraphernalia and a cockfighting pit. It comes after a lengthy investigation by the Humane Society of the United States documenting the blood sport across the state.

Cockfighting has been illegal in all 50 states for some time now, but here in Texas, it was perfectly legal to attend a cockfight or even raise birds for fighting until September of this year, when a new law went into effect.

Cockfighting is an extreme form of animal cruelty and it has no socially redeemable values whatsoever. These animals suffer and die just so people can have something to bet on, Goodwin said.

Animal cruelty leads to cruelty on others, said Caldwell.

In other words, he said, it s about more than mistreating your supper.

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