Man sentenced for smuggling roosters to Mexico

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SAN DIEGO — A Tijuana man who tried to smuggle nearly 30 mutilated hens and roosters intended for cockfights south into Mexico was sentenced Thursday in San Diego to time served.

roosterMarco Marquez-Avila, who’s spent about 65 days in custody, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes for unlawful transportation of animals used in an animal fighting venture, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Marquez-Avila, 41, was returned to the U.S. on April 22, after Mexican authorities found 28 birds — with their combs or wattles removed — covered by the floorboards of his Toyota Camry.

Each bird was individually wrapped in a nylon sock with its head covered and its feet bound with a Velcro strap. All the birds had to be euthanized, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Cockfighting is legal in Mexico, but U.S. federal law prohibits the transportation of animals that are to be used for that purpose.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marquez-Avila’s case was the fifth this year involving cockfighting birds being smuggled southbound into Mexico and marked the second time in as many months that Mexican authorities refused a person entry at the border because adult poultry are not allowed to be exported into Mexico without prior inspection and certification.