Police Arrest Four Lawrence Men in Alleged Cockfighting Scheme

Four Lawrence men were among six arrested by Massachusetts State Police Sunday morning after police report finding evidence of cockfighting.

Trooper Jeremiah Dwyer stopped a Honda Odyssey van driven by Richard Diaz, 30, of Lawrence, for motor vehicle violations on the eastbound side of Route 290 in Worcester. Dwyer found dead chickens and live ones that later had to be euthanized. Dwyer said he also observed “a large pile of loose cash under the driver’s seat.”

During questioning, Diaz said he and his five passengers were coming from Queens, N.Y., and going to Lawrence. A passenger, Yamil A. Maldonado, 28, of Lawrence, said he owned the van and gave troopers consent to search it.

Troopers said they found a large black trash bag in a hidden compartment under the van’s floor containing several dead, skinned chickens. Four boxes in the rear each contained a live chicken that had been subjected to procedures related to cockfighting, including having their lower bodies shaved and crests on their heads cut off. Also located in the vehicle was additional cash in the glove box, which, combined with the cash under the driver’s seat, totaled $4,500.

Also found was paraphernalia related to cockfighting, including razor blades, nail clippers, imitation spurs, wax and liquid tape used to secure the spurs to the chickens, lighters believed to be used to heat the wax, and a spray bottle with a clear liquid believed to be used to make chickens “slick” prior to fighting.

Besides Diaz and Maldonado, state police arrested Jose M. Vasquez, 34, and Helpis S. Rodriguez, 40, both of Lawrence; and Jose M. Figueroa, 27, of Dorchester, and Damian Castillo, 34, of Nashua, N.H. They were each charged with cruelty to animals, possession of fighting animals and conspiracy to commit a crime. Diaz will also be cited for speeding and committing a marked lanes violation.