If the roosters in the backseat weren’t a clue for a Texas Department of Safety trooper on Saturday, an Edinburg man’s shirt reading “Phenomenos Game Fowl” surely raised the officer’s suspicion that the men he pulled over might be involved in cockfighting.
And sure enough, the trooper found the tools of the trade in the Ford Edge he pulled over, resulting in the arrests of Edinburg residents Derrick Ortiz, 37, and Raul Alejandro Rivera Banda, 36, who are charged with possession of cockfighting equipment.
The traffic stop happened on Farm-to-Market Road 1423 north of Minnesota Road in Donna at about 8:17 a.m. Saturday after the trooper saw a 2017 Ford Edge with an expired license plate.
The trooper made contact with the driver, Rivera, who said the vehicle belonged to Ortiz, according to a probable cause affidavit.
“While talking to Rivera Banda I heard and observed roosters in the back seat. I asked Rivera Banda to meet me at the back of the car to continue with the interview,” the affidavit said.
Rivera told the trooper some of the roosters belonged to him and some belonged to Ortiz, according to DPS.
“Rivera Banda informed me that they were all going to take the roosters to his brother’s house for safekeeping,” the affidavit stated.
However, DPS said in the charging document that Ortiz said they were going to Rivera’s brother’s house to “spar” the roosters, but not fight them.
“(Ortiz) verbally consented to a vehicle search. While conducting a vehicle search I located a small black bag, which contained cockfighting equipment (slashers/blades) along with gauzes, tape and leather gear to attach the blades to the roosters,” the affidavit said.
DPS said Ortiz said Rivera owned the equipment, while Rivera said Ortiz owned the equipment.
They both bailed out on Sunday on $5,000 bonds.