Monday, May 15th 2017, 1:52 pm PDT
Monday, May 15th 2017, 1:52 pm PDT
By Patrick Phillips

An investigation into gamecock fighting in Colleton County landed 31 people behind bars, deputies say.

The arrests came after Colleton County deputies executed a search warrant at an address in the 700 block of Sullivan's Ferry Road in Cottageville, according to County County Sheriff's Lt. Tiger Benton. All are non-residents of the county except for the property owner, Benton said.

The county's Animal Control agency was called in because of the nature of the offense and the magnitude of the animals involved, Benton said.

In addition to the arrests, deputies seized several pieces of gamecock fighting paraphernalia and a total of $36,623.42 in U.S. currency, he said.

"From all appearances, this seemed to be a very organized criminal event, from the cockpit (fighting ring), to the housing and transportation of the animals, and also the equipment used on the animals to engage in the actual fighting," Benton said.

Animal Control officers seized 65 live gamecocks and 25 dead gamecocks that had succumbed from their injuries, Benton said.

As of Monday, 17 of the 31 arrested were still being held at the Colleton County Detention Center. An agency hold was placed on them for the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency.

The investigation is ongoing, Benton said.