Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission district leader Chance Campo charged with felony
SANTA ROSA, California; DAYTONA BEACH, Florida; OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma––The August 3, 2023 death of the filly Danehill Song on the first day of racing at the Sonoma County Fair in California, the death of at least one pit bull at an alleged dogfighting pit in Daytona Beach, Florida, raided a day earlier, and the deaths of about 60 roosters at a recent cockfight in Ratliff City, Oklahoma, had more in common than just exploitation of animals.
All three events involved the use of animals as gambling devices, like dice, cards, or a roulette wheel, in forms of gambling presenting the illusion that expertise in assessing animals can overcome the influence of luck.
If this were ever true, the house––the gambling venue––would not always win.
Regardless of who wins the pot, though, the animals always lose.
One bad step
Danehill Song, a three-year-old running in the sixth race of the day, “went ahead early and maintained a decent pace,” KTVU reported, “before losing the lead to another horse. This led to a chase into the stretch.”
One bad step brought a broken leg and an early finish for a horse who might have lived another 20 good years or more.
Danehill Song was the 47th fatality of the 2023 California horse racing season, and the seventh horse to die in a county fair race, according to the organization Kill Racing Not Horses.
Pit bulls & guns impounded from alleged fighting pit
“Daytona Beach Police are investigating a possible dogfighting ring after tips led them to dogs living in ‘unimaginable, horrific conditions’ with fresh wounds and what appeared to be a dogfighting pit,” reported Frank Fernandez for the Daytona Beach News-Journal after the March 2, 2023 raid.
Eight pit bulls were impounded from the scene, along with remains from a ninth pit bulls.
“Besides rescuing the animals,” Fernandez mentioned, “officers also found other items, including a notebook ledger with notes referring to dogfighting; a black .223-caliber magazine; ammunition; certificates from the American Dog Breeder Association; a black Taurus firearm; a black 9mm Ruger; and bottles of wound treatment.
Suspect charged with parole violation
“Most distressingly,” Fernandez said, “large pieces of carpet matting, heavily stained with what appeared to be blood, were found in the area presumed to be a dogfighting pit.”
No one was immediately charged with any offense related to dogfighting, but Gerard S. Turner, 41, was arrested at the scene and charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon or ammunition, plus allegedly violating probation for domestic battery.
Turner was held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail on the probation violation charge. Bond on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition was set at $25,000, Fernandez said.
Five previous animal control & police visits
Animal control officers and police had visited the Turner residence repeatedly in response to complaints about barking and the condition of the pit bulls: in 2022, on July 5, July 15, July 21, September 12, and September 21.
Turner was cited for improperly tethering his pit bulls after the September 12, 2022 visit, but in November 2022 pleaded “no contest,” paying a fine of $100.
“Adjudication was withheld, meaning it was not a conviction,” Fernandez said.
A second complaint about improper tethering, issued on September 21, 2022, was dismissed.
Chance Campo charged
The June 2023 cockfighting raid in Ratliff City, Oklahoma, population 120, did not become widespread public knowledge until August 7, 2023.
Then, mentioned a “Texoma News” report broadcast from television station KXII in Sherman, Texas, “Seven men are facing felonies for allegedly taking part in a cockfight.
Court records show that a total of 11 people have been charged in connection to the incident.”
Charged with felonies were Gary Bauman, Chance Campo, John Gliby, Hung Nguyen, Son Nguyen, Phillip Sanders, and Larry Young.
“Four others were charged with misdemeanors for spectating the event,” KXII said, noting that “The felony charges can carry up to ten years in prison and fines up to $25,000.”
“Asian Gaff Championship”
Busted, elaborated the California-based organization Animal Wellness Action, was “an event dubbed the Asian Gaff Championship,” at which Carter County sheriff’s deputies impounded “about 60 fighting roosters and equipment,” plus 20 vehicles and trailers.
Most of the estimated 170 to 180 people spectators and participants escaped without charges.
But among those who took a chance and got caught, an Animal Wellness Action media release explained, was “Chance Campo, a district leader with the so-called Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission. Carter County district attorney Melissa Handke charged Campo with servicing and facilitating a cockfight,” a felony, “and also a misdemeanor offense of being a spectator at a cockfight.”
“Led an organized cockfighting network”
Said Animal Wellness Action president Wayne Pacelle, who also heads the affiliated Center for a Humane Economy, “During the 2023 legislative session, Animal Wellness Action and Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK) released information detailing that the people behind the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission led an organized cockfighting network.”
The Animal Wellness Action claim was documented, Pacelle said, “by providing drone video footage of the gamecock farms of the Commission leaders, videos touting their marketing efforts and participation at cockfighting derbies,” and “evidence of shipments of gamecocks through the U.S. mail, gamecock price lists, and more.”
(See “Here they came to snuff the rooster” in Cantrell country, but SHARK saved him, Feds bust cockfighting spurs in the mail but ignore mailings of gamecocks, Oklahoma lawmakers ask sheriffs to protect cockfighter constituents, Pollster: pro-cockfighting votes by Oklahoma lawmakers flout voter opinion, and Lobbyists for dogfighting, cockfighting, & corruption prevail in Oklahoma.)
“Confirms what we’ve long known”
“Campo’s arrest only confirms what we’ve long known: people involved in the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission are cockfighters and they are intent on gutting a key state anti-cruelty the law so they can avoid legal jeopardy for their felonious activities,” Pacelle continued.
“The Oklahoma House, after stripping the title of HB 2530,” a bill which could have decriminalized cockfighting, “narrowly passed the cockfighters’ measure and sent it to the state senate,” Pacelle explained.
“But neither that bill nor state senator Lonnie Paxton’s SB 1006,” which would have done much the same thing, “ever got a vote in that chamber. House Speaker Charles McCall favored the effort to decriminalize animal cruelty. But because the title had been stripped from HB 2530, the measure would have had to come back to the state house for consideration if the state senate had acted on it.”
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, Pacelle added, “has drone footage of three of the cockfighting farms [owned by] the president, vice president and sergeant at arms for the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission. Animal Wellness Action also released two videos of other leaders of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission appearing in marketing videos made by a Philippine-based cockfighting network.”
Unclear is whether the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission members had anything to do with a Philippine cockfighting syndicate believed to have been responsible for the disappearances in early 2022 of 34 people who were suspected of rigging the outcome of cockfights associated with online gambling.
The Philippine National Police in February 2023 issued a “wanted” posted identifying as suspects six men who worked as security guards for the cockfights, including three former police officers.
“Not a single arrest in most of the biggest cockfighting counties”
“According to the District Attorneys Council of Oklahoma,” the Animal Wellness Action media release continued, “from 2004 to 2022, there were only 29 law enforcement actions resulting in the arrest of individuals involved in cockfighting, an average of 1.75 busts a year for 75 of 77 counties in Oklahoma.
“There has not been a single arrest in most of the biggest cockfighting counties in the state, including Atoka, Coal, LeFlore, and McCurtain counties,” Animal Wellness Action said.
Atoka County is represented in the Oklahoma statehouse by Justin Humphrey, author of HB 2530, to decriminalize cockfighting, and earlier the author of an attempt to introduce a Bigfoot hunting season.
“Prior to January 1, 2023,” Animal Wellness Action recounted, “the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission donated $41,250 to 34 sitting state house members and nine state senators, with the single largest recipient of contributions being state senator Lonnie Paxton ($2,500).”
Humphrey “received $1,000 from the cockfighters’ political action committee,” Animal Wellness action said.
Remarkably for a town so small, the June 2023 cockfighting arrests in Ratliff City were not the first.
Mom & Pop cockfighters, tool thieves, & meth head
According to Marsha Miller of the Ardmore, Oklahoma Daily Ardmorite, husband and wife Christopher and Patricia Morris were in April 2017 charged with instigating cockfighting and keeping a place for cockfighting, both felonies.
Christopher Morris was also charged with knowingly concealing stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, and both felonious possession of a firearm and felonious possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Morris was arrested on a search warrant issued “in connection with property stolen in a number of recent thefts from utility companies, businesses and oil field sites,” Carter County sheriff Chris Bryant told Miller.
100 roosters & 19 guns
“However, the stolen goods weren’t the only illegal items found,” wrote Miller. “Bryant said more than 100 roosters, a cockfighting pit,” various paraphernalia, and “win/loss sheets, betting wager logs and a set of weighted scales were also uncovered,” along with “19 illegal firearms ranging from pistols to shotguns and rifles.
“The pending charges against Morris continued to ratchet upward,” Miller added, “when he was discovered in possession of methamphetamine during book-in procedures at the Carter County Detention Center.”
As there are many people with the same or similar names in Oklahoma, the disposition of the charges remains unclear.