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Press Release

Mexican National Residing in Bakersfield Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Illegal Cockfighting in Violation of the Animal Welfare Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Horacio Ortega-Martinez, 36, a citizen of Mexico residing in Bakersfield, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for possessing roosters for the purpose of using them in an animal fighting venture, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

In addition, the forfeiture of the fighting roosters and 49 breeding hens was ordered. On Nov. 10, 2022, Ortega pleaded guilty to an Animal Welfare Act crime involving the possession of 250 roosters for use in an animal fighting venture.

According to court documents, law enforcement agents became aware of Ortega’s involvement in breeding, fighting, and selling roosters in January 2022 through recorded conversations obtained from a court-authorized wiretap of a phone used by Jorge Calderon-Campos, 42, of Bakersfield. Ortega and Calderon had various telephone conversations about buying, selling, and fighting roosters. On April 26, 2022, a search warrant was served at Ortega’s property, where agents found approximately 250 fighting roosters, approximately 250 “gaffs” (razor-sharp steel blades that are tied to the birds’ legs), mitts commonly used for training and fighting roosters, and miscellaneous antibiotics, vitamins, and supplements that are commonly used for breeding and training roosters for fighting.

Calderon has been charged with various drug trafficking offenses and animal fighting venture crimes in two separate indictments. The charges against him are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) , the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Highway Patrol, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the Kern County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Kern County Probation Department, and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Humane Society of the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated February 23, 2024

Animal Welfare