Jay Williamson and

Gregory Case

Cockfighting ring busted - 52 birds seized Rylie, TX November 29, 2008

Robert Womack said he had no idea that a cockfighting ring was operating on the 137 acre property he owns in the Rylie area of southeast Dallas.

  (Photo courtesy of KYE R. LEE/Dallas Morning News)  Douglas Reed, a temporary employee at Dallas Animal Services, tried to put a loose rooster back in a cage Sunday, in the wake of a police raid on a cockfighting ring in Rylie. Animal Services spent the day clearing out room at its Westmoreland Road shelter for 52 seized roosters.

According to Womack, he had rented the ranch to a new tenant only 2 weeks ago for the purpose of raising cattle.

But "I always thought they had something up their sleeve," Womack stated, referring to his tenant.

Police stormed Womack's' pastures and found a wild scene: dead roosters, a bloody pit, gambling books and syringes for injecting the birds with steroids.

Police said thousands of dollars changed hands between about 300 spectators and the organizers before officers showed up. Many in the crowd fled into nearby woods; a police helicopter hovered overhead to help find them.

Some left with their roosters in hand. Some returned from the woods to grab their birds, which can fetch as much as $5,000 apiece.

"You can't keep things like that secret for long," said Mr. Womack.

Mr. Womack, 92, said he thought his tenant was grazing livestock on the land, which is off St. Augustine Road just south of Interstate 20.

Three weeks ago, he said, he visited the tenant and toured the land. He said he couldn't recall the tenant's name.

"He said he had a pretty good thing going on," Mr. Womack said. "He said he let families come out to picnic for $10 a piece."

  (Photo courtesy of the Dallas Crime Examiner)  Police raided the ranch after getting an anonymous tip.

The two suspected of organizing the ring, 71-year-old Jay Williamson and 55-year-old Gregory Case, were charged with keeping a gambling place, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Mr. Williamson also faces a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Dallas police issued about 75 citations to spectators. Dallas sheriff's deputies issued some citations, too.

Dallas police Senior Cpl. Gerardo Monreal said that organizers charged $20 per spectator, and that more money exchanged hands for betting.

The next day, the long driveway to the property's entrance was gated shut, and a "no trespassing" sign greeted visitors. Several cars drove down the narrow, dusty driveway but turned around quickly.

Dallas Animal Services spent the day clearing out room at its Westmoreland Road shelter for 52 seized roosters. Authorities estimated that as many as 150 roosters were on hand, and that about 20 died.

At a hearing Dec. 12, a Dallas municipal court judge will determine what happens to the seized roosters. In the meantime, Animal Services will care for the birds.

"They don't make good pets," said manager Kent Robertson. "They'll fly right in your face. They're not afraid of anybody or anything."

The roosters' combs were cut off, and the spurs on their shanks were shaved down to allow for a gaff, or blade, to be inserted before fighting.

Mr. Robertson said his crew confiscates roosters from one or two illegal fighting rings per year. The events are advertised through informal newsletters, word of mouth and on the Internet, but how many take place in the area is unknown.

"We don't see a lot of it," he said, "but I do believe there is a lot of it going on."

Police were only able to detain about 100 of the spectators in attendance, however, police said the three alleged organizers of the cock matches are to be charged with organized crime.


Dallas Morning Star

Dallas Crime Examiner