An O'Neill man has been sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for his involvement in a cockfighting venture, discovered last August through wiretaps in an investigation into immigration crimes.
Fabian Castro pleaded guilty to participating in an animal fighting venture.
In the written plea agreement, prosecutors say Castro had worked with Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado from May to August buying roosters through the mail for illegal gambling on cockfighting.
Sanchez-Delgado is set for sentencing for conspiring with corporate supervisors at several medium- to large-sized ag corporations to supply them with a cheap, illegal labor force.
In phone calls, Castro discussed taking care of the roosters, selling 20 and buying one of Sanchez-Delgado's for $300.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Woods said on Aug. 8, an agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture found 31 gamecocks, including two with bloody wounds from a recent fight, in cages during a search at a ranch near O'Neill. She said about half of the birds had their combs or wattles cut off and their spurs had been cut off or trimmed down, common practices in cockfighting ventures.
Woods said the agent also found syringes, needles and supplements made in Mexico used to stimulate growth, minimize fatigue, combat pain and aid in beak development in gamecocks, as well as poultry leashes or tethers used to secure them.
At a hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lincoln, Chief Judge John M. Gerrard sentenced Castro to the prison time, plus two years of supervised release.