LAWRENCE — State police said yesterday they will seek illegal gaming charges against two men arrested in a raid at a downtown social club Tuesday that exposed a practice few law enforcement agencies said they even were aware of: betting on cockfighting simulcast live from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to betting parlors in the United States.
"I'm not surprised there was another gambling location in Lawrence," said Lawrence Police Chief John Romero, whose officers participated in the evening raid at the Italian American Civic Association at 93 Essex St. "What was surprising was that one of the things they were betting on was simulcasted cockfighting."
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said cockfighting has crept onto the radar at the prosecutor's office but stopped short of saying that the blood sport is resurging here. Cockfighting has been outlawed in all 50 states since 2008, when Louisiana became the last to ban it, but it remains legal in much of Latin and South America and the Caribbean, including in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
"This might represent the first time that law enforcement has been able to identify an actual location and parties involved with the practice," said Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. "There is an awareness that it's out there, but to date we haven't been able to put the pieces together to get an actual arrest."
David Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, which led the raid at the social club, could not be reached yesterday to comment on whether cockfighting may be making a comeback, if only on simulcasts from overseas.
Bret Hopman, a spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said reports of simulcast cockfights to his agency are not common.