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AUTHORITIES ARREST 296 DURING COCKFIGHT IN BRONX

In its largest raid in history, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it shut down a national championship cockfight in the Bronx and arrested 296 people.

Police joined society law enforcement officers in the raid late Saturday at an old movie theater that had been transformed into an arena with bleachers that overlooked an octagonal fighting pit.

Society officials said the organizers had deployed guard dogs and built a series of false walls that could be closed quickly to hide the pit and make it look as if the theater was used for boxing matches.

By the time officers rushed in at 11:30 p.m., 20 birds had been killed in fights, said John Foran, chief administrative officer of the SPCA.

Seven people, considered to be the organizers, were charged with felony cruelty to animals and participating in an animal fight, Foran said. They face up to four years in prison.

In addition, 289 spectators were arrested on charges of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and participating in an animal fight.

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