DUI leads to cockfighting arrest

Mauro Esparza


OKEECHOBEE — After being arrested on DUI charges Saturday, Feb. 16, a man was found to have seven aggressive roosters caged in the bed of his truck, and he was later charged with seven counts of the sale, possession of or use of animals to fight or bait. He was also charged with one count of the sale, possession or use of the equipment for animal fighting.

Mauro Esparza Becerra, 48, Center Street, was arrested at approximately 10 p.m. after Sheriff’s Deputies Matt Crawford and Steven Pollock responded to a report claiming a red pickup truck was seen weaving all over the road near the 1800 block of State Road 710.

Deputy Crawford stated that when he arrived in the area, he saw a red truck parked on the shoulder of the road and noticed the driver’s door was open. He said the driver was sitting with his feet hanging out of the door and it appeared as if he had been vomiting. He turned around to check on the driver and as he approached the vehicle, he reported the driver got out of his truck and almost fell over.

At that time, Okeechobee City Auxiliary Police Officer Manny Cisneros arrived to help with translation, and because there was reportedly a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, Becerra was asked if he would be willing to consent to a field sobriety test. Becerra allegedly failed the sobriety test and was arrested and charged with DUI.

While completing an inventory of Becerra’s vehicle, K-9 Deputy Matt Crawford, who was assisting in the arrest, found what appeared to be some type of jewelry box inside the truck. This box reportedly contained 15 clean metal spurs and 12 bloody metal spurs, two pens, rolls of some sort (possibly felt), electrical tape, three leather pieces, two possible sheaths, three rubber bands and a Post-It pad. In the back of the truck were seven roosters and two hens, each caged separately.

All of the roosters showed signs they had been used for cockfighting, such as clipped combs, waddles and spurs. Some reportedly had other signs as well.

Bond for the cockfighting charges was set at $20,000, and bond for the DUI was set at $750.

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