Victorian man investigated after illegal cockfighting imports detected in Melbourne

Published on 29 May 2023

Joint investigation by RSPCA Victoria and Australian Border Force

A Victorian man is being investigated by RSPCA Victoria after Australian Border Force (ABF) detected an alleged importation of illegal cockfighting implements and equipment through international mail in Melbourne.

The ABF detected the alleged cockfighting implements after a routine X-ray screening and alerted RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team, which commenced an urgent investigation and executed a warrant at a property in the Whitehorse City Council region on Thursday, seizing the package and implements.

As part of the execution of the warrant, Inspectors also seized two roosters that are now in the care of the RSPCA.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations (POCTAR) 2019, it is an offence to possess or use animal fighting implements. This includes equipment such as cockfighting rings and drugs or other implements used to improve the fighting performance of a rooster.

Speaking about the investigation, Inspector Lisa Calleja, Team Leader of the RSPCA Major Investigations Team commended the assistance from valued partner ABF.

“RSPCA Victoria is committed to stamping out illegal animal fighting in our state, and this investigation wouldn’t have been possible without ABF’s assistance,” Inspector Calleja said.

“Cockfighting is illegal and cruel, and the roosters used in this blood-sport suffer horrific injuries and death. Sadly, this latest investigation shows these barbaric activities are still occurring.

“RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigation Team is committed to investigating and ending illegal animal fighting in the state. Serious penalties apply for persons found guilty of being involved in these brutal blood-sports,” Inspector Calleja said.

ABF A/g Superintendent Felicity Wicks praised the work of ABF officers who detected the cockfighting implements at the border.

“We are highly trained and capable when it comes to making detections at the border. Our officers take immense pride in protecting all members of the Australian community, including beloved pets and animals,” A/g Superintendent Wicks said.

“Our technical expertise and sophisticated technology means that regardless of the method of concealment used, we will find whatever it is criminals are trying to import.

“The Australian border is one of our most critical national assets and criminals should know that we will relentlessly protect it with the help of our valued partners, including the RSPCA.”

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, it is an offence to wound, mutilate, torture, abuse, beat, worry, torment or terrify an animal.  It is also an offence for a person to keep, use or assist in the management of premises for the purpose of causing an animal to fight or for the baiting or maltreating of an animal. Offences under the act carry a penalty of up to 500 penalty units equating to $92,460 or imprisonment for two years.

The investigation follows a large law enforcement operation on 14 April when RSPCA Victoria Inspectors executed a warrant at a property in the Melton area and more than 200 roosters allegedly owned for the purpose of illegal cockfighting. At this stage investigators do not believe the two cases are connected however investigations are ongoing.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via rspcavic.org/tip-off-form or by calling 03 9224 2222. Facebook messages and emails through unofficial channels do not constitute an official cruelty report.

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