Cockfighting ring ends in plea deal


Jesus Lagunilla will serve just 12 months in jail

WOODSTOCK, Va. (WDVM) — An Edinburg, Virginia man will serve prison time for his role in a cockfighting operation.

On Tuesday morning, Jesus Garcia Lagunilla, 49, of Barbershop Road pleaded guilty to five counts of felony animal fighting and an additional five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Lagunilla was initially indicted on 10 charges each for both crimes.

On November 20, 2018, deputies from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office responded to Lagunilla’s home on another matter, noted Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch, who heads the Commonwealth’s animal law unit. When deputies arrived, they discovered 66 game birds on the property, more than 50 of which were roosters.

According to Welch, the roosters’ combs and waddles had been removed, a behavior consistent with cockfighting. In addition, gaffes and knives were found on the property, which Welch said are commonly strapped to the roosters in order for the birds to be more dangerous during fights.

Other paraphernalia, including supplements to enhance the birds’ fighting abilities, medications for the birds’ recovery, transportation boxes, and large barrels which the birds were chained to were found on the property.

While the felony charges each carried a sentence of up to five years and the misdemeanor charges carried a sentence of up to 12 months each, Lagunilla’s plea agreement called for a suspension of all but 12 months of jail time. Under the agreement, Lagunilla will be allowed to serve the time in weekend-long stints, leaving the jail Monday through Friday.

Lagunilla will be on 10 years of unsupervised probation after serving his time. He will be permitted to unscheduled visits by law enforcement to ensure he is not owning any other animals.

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