Certified Criminal Law Specialist in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ

Tanks, Steven Seagal bust alleged Arizona cockfighting ring


In Arizona it takes a tank, the SWAT team and Steven Seagal to bust an alleged cockfighting ring.

Neighbours in the town of Lavine were woken Tuesday night to the site of a dozen SWAT team members and armoured vehicles surrounding a house on their street.

That’s when the tank rolled in, or, as the Maricopa county sheriff’s office website describes it: “a self propelled ‘Howitzer’ emblazoned with anti-drug messages and a new tool to educate our children of the dangers of drug abuse.”

But the heavy police presence wasn’t due to a suspected terrorist cell, or bomb making factory.

“When the tank came in and pushed the wall over and you see what’s in there, and all it is, is a bunch of chickens,” neighbour Debra Ross told Phoenix station KPHO.

But wait — there were roosters too.

The sheriff’s department blew out the windows of the house to execute a search warrant and arrest homeowner, Jesus Llovera, on charges of suspected cockfighting.

Llovera was alone and unarmed at the time of arrest, but there were a lot of chickens.

In fact, 115 of the birds were euthanized on the spot.

“I think taxpayers should be shocked,” Robert Campus, Llovera’s attorney, told KPHO. Campus believes the whole operation costs tens of thousands of dollars, along with the thousands of dollars in damage done to his client’s home.

But what shocked some residents more was the presence of actor Steven Seagal in the tank.

Seagal has been filming the third season of his A&E show ‘Lawman’ in Arizona after teaming up with the state’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio. For the show, Seagal and his film crew have been given complete access to police operations as fully-fledged sheriff’s deputy Seagal helps enforce the law.

Arpaio has gained notoriety in the U.S. for his policing philosophy that includes requiring male inmates wear pink underpants, to prevent them being stolen, and the website MCSO.org that displays suspects’ mug shots as soon as they are booked. He is also known for his enforcement of the state’s controversial immigration laws.

The Maricopa County sheriff’s office defended their approach to the bust, denying accusations that they pulled out the big guns for the benefit of Seagal’s cameras.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution. We’re going to make sure that we have the appropriate amount of force in case we do run into anything like that,” Sgt. Jesse Spurgin, told KPHO.com.

As for Seagal: “Animal cruelty is one of my pet peeves,” he told ABC 15.

According to reports, Llovera was approached by Seagal to sign a release form for his arrest to air on ‘Lawman.’ Llovera refused.

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