Escazú raid busts up chicken fight and nets 50 persons

Some 60 police officers descended on an illegal chicken-fighting operation Sunday and detained 50 persons, including children. One spectator who fled suffered a bullet wound to the foot, said the office of the Escazú mayor.

Participating were municipal police, the Fuerza Pública and the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal.

The raid took place at midday, and officers said they found alcohol for sale illegally. The children at the chicken fight ranged from 5 years to 12, officers said.

Fighting roosters is a long tradition that dates to antiquity. Although there is evidence of chickens from Polynesia in at least one pre-Colombian archaeological site, the fowl in the Americas today came from Europe. The practice of fighting the birds is not illegal in all Latin countries, and sometimes such fights are featured on cable television stations and can be seen in Costa Rica.

Police said the chickens found at the site will be destroyed. Some were fitted with the sharp, metal spikes that are used in the ring. The report said that one man threatened police with a machete when they entered the ring, which is called a gallera in Spanish. The man who suffered the bullet wound was one who fled through the underbrush. The exact reason is still unclear.

The big attraction of these fights is the ability to bet on the outcome of the encounters between roosters. Isidro Calvo, director of the Escazú municipal police, said that the raid was the result of several months of investigation.

Fans of fights between roosters were rounded up and made to await processing on the floor of the ring.

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