Police: Anonymous letter led to Youngstown chicken-fighting ring

Rogelio Rojas-Pena and Luis Rodriguez were arrested during an investigation into a suspected cockfighting operation in Youngstown

Rogelio Rojas-Pena and Luis Rodriguez, charged with drug possession.
Left: Rogelio Rojas-Pena. Right: Luis Rodriguez.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – An anonymous letter led police to a suspected cockfighting ring in Youngstown.

The letter was sent to Animal Charity Humane Society, and they called police to investigate a home on Youngstown’s east side.

“It was just a plain piece of paper that said there have been multiple deliveries of chickens to a certain address,” said Animal Charity Board President Mary Louk.

Once at the home, police arrested Rogelio Rojas-Pena and Luis Rodriguez, charging them with drug possession.

Rogelio Rojas-Pena and Luis Rodriguez, charged with drug possession.
Left: Rogelio Rojas-Pena. Right: Luis Rodriguez.

Although Vice Squad detectives had been investigating Rojas-Pena for some time, humane agents said they found evidence of chicken-fighting as well as drugs at Rojas’ home on Ives Street.

Youngstown Police Lt. Gerry Slattery said steroid, which were suspected to be used for the chickens, were found.

“We also found illegal contraband, heroin, over an ounce of heroin, and we found cocaine also,” Slattery said.

In the garage, agents recovered nearly four dozen roosters and hens, as well as two dogs — one of them chained outside in the cold. While the dogs are now in the care of Animal Charity, the birds were all taken to a sanctuary in Ravenna.

Louk said her agents believe there are other chicken-fighting rings in the area, but its difficult to catch them.

“It really comes down to somebody letting us know, somebody seeing something, even if you’re not sure. Call it in, let our agents investigate it,” she said.

Lt. Slattery said cockfighting usually goes hand-in-hand with other crimes.

Rojas-Pena and Rodruguez remain in Mahoning County Jail. Police said Rojas-Pena was on probation for a federal drug conviction.

Humane Agents are expected to file animal cruelty charges as well.