A Norman Park man who was among 32 people arrested Saturday at an alleged cockfighting event has been charged with gambling, violation of the state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute and other charges.
Wallace Hurst, husband of former Norman Park mayor Sandy Hurst, and 31 other people arrested on animal cruelty charges were released from Colquitt County Jail on Monday. Those arrested live as far away as Douglas, Ga., and a number of them are Florida residents.
Hurst, 57, 4391 U.S. 319 N., is accused of operating the event at which spectators paid a $20 admission fee and $100 for each chicken they entered for fighting.
He is charged with commercial gambling, a RICO violation and two misdemeanors, keeping a place of gambling and cruelty to animals.
The set-up, located about a mile and a half into the woods, was described as elaborate and indicated that it had been in existence for some time, a Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. It included a concession stand where drinks, hot dogs, hamburgers and chips were sold.
“I would say a couple of years,” sheriff’s investigator Shannon Hart said of the length of time fights may have been going on. “There is an elaborate barn with an arena and stands.”
The fighting area was enclosed in Plexiglas, he said.
The sheriff’s office was given an anonymous tip that led to the raid where officers found more than 40 live birds and about six birds that were dead, apparently killed in fights, Hart said. Several thousand dollars were seized, but the exact amount of money taken was not available on Monday.
“They had a vehicle set up just inside the property; you had to pay $20 (admission),” Hart said. “I think you could bring four birds, and it cost you $400 to enter them.”
A shotgun was seized from the vehicle where spectators paid admission and a pistol was taken from Hurst’s truck, Hart said.
The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Southwest Georgia Gang Task Force, with officers coming from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Moultrie Police Department, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office, Thomasville Police Department and Valdosta Police Department.
The live chickens were turned over to the Humane Society of Moultrie-Colquitt County.
Hurst was released Monday on a $4,000 bond.
Arrested on charges of parties to animal cruelty and released Monday on their own recognizance were:
• Alejandro Millan Gonzalez, 39, 331 Best St., Greensboro, Fla.
• Elias Encina, 50, 455 Crawford Road, Cairo.
• Mickey Mizell, 46, 155 Bill Mizell Lane, Axson, Ga.
• Timeto Rangel.
• Mario Villafuente Trujillo, 27, 501 Arlean Lane, Sparks.
• Andrew Vasquez, 43, 294 Sunset Lane, Cairo.
• Antonio Chavez, 40, 1413 Rita Road, Tallahassee, Fla.
• Chad Walker Ables, 42, 334 Cross Road, Douglas.
• Juan Juarez and Sergio Herrera, 30, both of 109 Harris Road, Adel.
• Joel Keith White, 45, 1388 Ga. Hwy. 33 S.
• Marvin Gene Sheffield, 44, 86 Sparrow Cove, Eastman, Ga.
• Gary Luther Germanton, 41, 12 J&K Lane, Crawfordville, Fla.
• Rufus Henry Busbin, 63, 127 Smokey Bear Road, Norman Park.
• Lawrence Edward McDaniel, 53, 5780 Marty Road, Valdosta.
• Rafael Bustamante, 48, McElroy Road.
• Ardell Burney, 54, 740 Fla. Hwy. 17 N., Palatka, Fla.
• Mike Jackson Spires, 46, 2188 Cochran Hwy., Eastman, Ga.
• Crisoforo Rangel Jr., 32, 1814 N.E.. Cannon Branch Road, Hosford, Fla.
• Dakotah Joe Thompson, 28, 819 Tree Farm Road, Moultrie
• Christopher Stephen Tucker, 28, 12 J&K Lane, Crawfordville, Fla.
• Jose Luis Espinoza, 28, 37 Julia Road, Tifton.
• Jack Goforth, 42, 1091 Ga. Hwy. 256, Norman Park.
• John Thomas Pate, 218 Damascus Road, Ty Ty.
• Michael Larry Underwood, 50, and Dorothy Dian Underwood, 44, both of 3600 Russell Road, Green Cove Springs, Fla.
• Monroe Miller, 63, 1420 Ga. Hwy. 33 S.
• Jessica Neyba Trinidad, 20, 1552 Bethel Church Road, Omega.
• Felipe Serrano, no age or address available.
• Rodney Craig Scarborough, 45, 753 Dikes Road, Eastman, Ga.
• Antonio Manbujano Arrequin, 29, 1678 Ga. Hwy. 33 S.