About 11 a.m. Sunday, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a large group of vehicles gathered on private property located near the Santa Maria Airport on Mahoney Road.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they discovered about 20 cars parked in a field and heard the sounds of roosters.

Upon finding out that law enforcement officials were on the property, 20 to 30 people fled the scene on foot. Sheriff’s deputies were able to detain four individuals.

Through the course of their investigation, sheriff’s deputies and Santa Barbara County animal control officers recovered 19 roosters along with items consistent with rooster fighting and gambling. Two of the roosters had to be euthanized due the injuries they sustained from fighting. Among the items discovered were metal spurs used to attach to the animals for fighting purposes along with twine and tape. They also found items used to weigh the animals and boxes used for transportation.

Cipriano Rodriguez, 77, of Santa Barbara and 32-year-old Armando Villa of Santa Ynez were issued citations for possession of fighting birds and for trespassing. Jose Alvarez, 85, of Santa Maria and 55-year-old Carlos Villa of Buellton were issued trespassing citations.

The case has been forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

If you see similar suspicious activity involving roosters, you are encouraged to immediately report it to local law enforcement.

— Kelly Hoover is a public information specialist for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.