In March of 2015, the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) revisited a suspicious property, located in the notorious C-9 Basin-an area of Miami, Florida that is notoriously famed for inhumane and illegal animal torture businesses.

Five years prior, ARM had investigated this geographical zone and in collaboration with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, subsequently closed up to 70 illegal slaughterhouses, animal fighting operations and animal sacrifice farms. This investigation and large scale raid, titled Operation Restore, became renown as the largest animal cruelty investigation in US history.

To ensure that animal cruelty operations did not re-establish, ARMs surveillance and investigative teams continued to monitor the C-9 Basin. However, following a recon mission in 2015, its suspicions were realized of the re-emergence of not one, but two animal fighting businesses – Operation Gallo and its sister investigation, Operation Foghorn.

With this, ARM promptly proceeded to embed its most seasoned investigators to obtain evidence of the criminal ongoings.

ARMs undercover investigators entered into a cockfight and quickly realized that the roots of these new fighting operations, spread far further than a weekly event of entertainment and animal betting. Operation Foghorn, quickly became recognized as one of the most corrupt, prosperous and deeply connected animal fighting operations.

Some of the most well-known animal fighters in the state of Florida, congregated, participated and occupied these operations. Many of these individuals held lengthy track records, and some had even been prosecuted in recent animal fighting operations in Miami, Florida.

Foghorn’s business was utilizing animals, in particular fighting roosters, to gain substantial profits from the sale and fighting of game birds. An average of 350 people would come to either bet, watch or fight their ‘birds’ in grueling death matches. ARM investigators also witnessed not only the presence of minors, but their actual physical involvement in the fights themselves. These minors were often under the age of five years.

Money filtered through Operation Foghorn produced grand profits, and with the consistently high attendances every week, along with ringside betting averages between $20 and $20,000, an astonishing average of $750,000 of bets were made at each gathering.

The animal cruelty and torture that the fighting roosters were witnessed by ARMs investigators, inside and outside of the ring were horrific.

On average, every week, 21 fights were programmed at Operation Foghorn. These fights generally lasted between 15-40 minutes, depending on the time it took for one bird to either succumb to its death or surrender from exhaustion.

Once a winner was determined, the metal ‘weapon like’ spurs which were bound to the birds legs prior to the fights, were cut off by workers in the ring. Many times, too lazy to cut the ropes that bound the spurs in place, workers would cut the birds entire leg off – whilst still alive.

Injured and dying birds were either suffocated in garbage bags or discarded into trash barrels and left to die amongst other suffering birds, broken beer bottles and garbage. Spectators also were witnessed throwing the losing birds into the surrounding woods or take the birds home for human consumption.

Illegal animal fighting was not the only crimes being committed at Foghorn. Weapons, drugs, paraphernalia and unlicensed food and alcohol sales were also being illegally dealt. With elevated tensions and high stakes associated with betting rings, undercover operatives often witnessed violent fights breaking out amongst patrons. Armed weapons were often threatened and used at these times.

Through its intel, undercover operatives were also informed of regular planned theft attacks and home invasions upon those who were considered to be at the highest ranks of betting and winning at the cockfights. These people were targeted for the capital which they attained from their winnings.

ARMs investigations revealed an extensive list of state violations upon the property where the illegal animal fighting was being executed.

These included:

    • Animal cruelty resulting in death,
    • Illegal beer and liquor sales,
    • Illegal gambling
    • Attending the fighting or baiting of animals,
    • County ordinance codes
    • Illegal disposing of animal carcasses,
    • Sanitary nuisance,
    • Building and zoning and infractions
    • Environmental infractions,
    • Violating IRS laws,
    • Operating a business without a license / insurance,
    • Child abuse,
    • Possession of illegal narcotics,
    • Possession of cockfighting paraphernalia

In the fourth quarter of 2016, ARM’s investigation came to an end with the successful disassembly of Operation Foghorn. 

After ARMs internal report was developed, meetings began with county and state agencies. An official strike force was being created and relevant agencies began activities on the fighting operation.

Promptly, undercover law enforcement agents entered Operation Foghorn, posing as customers to confirm illegal activities. Unfortunately, the identity of these official undercover operatives were revealed and their identities became compromised.

This was not the outcome that ARM had strategically planned for, but ultimately the cockfighting operation and illegal activities were permanently closed down. Many of the individuals involved went into hiding throughout the state of Florida and are now being sought out.

ARMs UNDERCOVER FOOTAGE