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DOJ: Alabama family ran ‘one of the largest cockfighting enterprises’ in U.S.

A series of sentences were handed down by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) this week to members of a Chilton County family for operating an illegal cockfighting business.

According to prosecutors, the family ran an “expansive cockfighting operation” in a “stadium-style seating for approximately 150 people” alongside a “merchandise stand.”

Fox News Digital first reported the DOJ’s press release surrounding the sentences.

George Easterling, 56, became the seventh and final participant in the Verbena-based operation to be sentenced Wednesday. Easterling was sentenced to a 22-month prison term and one year of supervised release, according to the DOJ.

He pleaded guilty to numerous felony charges, including being found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act’s ban on animal fighting, Fox News Digital reported.

“Participants were charged expensive fees to enter their birds in the derbies – such as $1,500 to fight seven roosters – and told what weapons to strap to the roosters’ legs, such as short knives, long knives or spurs,” DOJ stated.

The enterprise’s participants, ranging from ages 25 to 77, also led a fighting-bird breeding operation.

Prosecutors alleged “members of the Easterling family ran two large fighting-bird breeding businesses known as Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm at which thousands of birds were bred and sold to be used in fights between two or more birds for the purposes of sport, wagering or entertainment.”

“Combined, the seven convicted members of the Easterling family helped run one of the largest cockfighting enterprises in the country,” the DOJ statement said. “With the help of six of his family members, Jim Easterling owned and operated the cockfighting pit for many years, even enlisting his granddaughter, Amber Easterling, to sell weapons used to kill birds in cockfights at the merchandise stand.”

The DOJ said Brent Easterling, the son of Jim, was “one of the most widely-known fighting-bird breeders in the country.” At L&L Gamefarm, he and his wife Kassi Easterling charged “$1,500 for three chickens because they were birds of select fighting pedigrees.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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