ICE Agents Raid an Illegal Cockfighting and Gambling Ring in Detroit

Federal immigration officials raided an illegal cockfighting and gambling ring in Detroit this past weekend. Officials said on Monday they have about 50 undocumented immigrants in custody, who might face deportation now.

The gaming ring bust was lead by U.S. Customers and Immigratrations or “ICE” agents. ICE is the successor to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and has been involved in a number of illegal gambling cases.

For instance, when Malaysian professional poker player Paul Phua was arrested for conducting an illegal sports betting ring out of Caesars Palace hotel rooms, Mr. Phua was held by ICE, at least until a U.S. District Judge threw out much of the evidence against him due to illegal search and seizure actions by the FBI.

85 People Involved, 50+ Detained

The raid came in an abandoned building in southwest Detroit. ICE investigators said they found about 85 people in the building, though dozens of them fled when ICE agents arrived. The cockfighting ring had about 100 roosters on the premises.

Khaalid Walls, an ICE spokesman, said that the raid came after the cockfighting ring had become a “nuisance” to locals.

Mr. Walls said, “This operation was taken down because we had information that it was a nuisance in the community. The criminal investigation is ongoing. It’s being led by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.”

IRS and Michigan State Police Involved

While the bust was led by ICE, the raiding force also included agents from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service, the Michigan State Police, and the Detroit Police Department.

Like most illegal gambling raids, this weekend’s raid happened after several months of prior investigation and observation. Investigators said that more than half of the people caught in the raid face deportation hearings.

What Is Cockfighting?

Cockfighting is a popular form of gambling in many regions around the globe. Like a boxing match or MMA fight, gamblers place bets on the winner of the fight. Roosters are pitted against one another and money changes hands between audience members. Organizers sometimes have their own sportsbook, though other organizers simply take admission at the entrance.

In North America, cockfighting is particularly brutal. Metal spurs are placed on the heels of the birds, which turn cockfighting into a deadly bloodsport. The fights might go until one rooster is dead. Often, one or both competitors must be “put down” after the fight, due to injuries.

Cockfighting around the World

Cockfighting is illegal in most parts of the world. In Southeast Asia, cockfighting is banned in many countries, though authorities look the other way when cockfights are arranged on certain holidays. In those countries, the birds are not fixed with metal spurs, so the combat is not nearly as deadly.

ICE in the Spotlight

ICE has become a lightning rod for controversy during the Trump administration, because of its key role in immigration raids. The national media highlighted a Phoenix area mother who was arrested in a high-profile ICE raid, after she reported into to the immigration offices, a practice she had done dutifully for the past 9 years. Another story told of a Phoenix-area father who pulled out of his car and detained as he was driving his 13-year old daughter to school.

The starkest case may have been a Texas resident who was arrested from her hospital bed by ICE agents. The woman illegally entered the country to receive treatments for brain cancer. The woman claimed she fled her country due to gang-related death threats, but officials planned to deport her.

In fact, a raid on a cockfighting ring might not receive nearly as much national attention, had the raiding officials not been ICE agents and those busted were mainly undocumented individuals.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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