Members of an Alabama family were convicted for their role in running a large-scale cockfighting ring and a fighting bird breeding business.

Seven members of a Verbena, Alabama, family have been sentenced for participating in what the Justice Department calls a “spreading” cockfighting operation.

Members of the Easterling family were convicted for their role in running a large-scale cockfighting ring and a fighting bird breeding business. They were also charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act and operating an illegal gambling business.

The co-conspirators allegedly operated a cockfighting business, according to WEARTV, from at least January 2018 to June 11, 2021. The cockfighting took place in a small arena surrounded by “stadium-style” seating that they could accommodate about 150 people. Merchandise stalls were set up in nearby buildings on the same land.

“Combined, the seven convicted members of the Easterling family helped run one of the largest cockfighting companies in the country,” read a department news release.

During fights, two or more roosters with razor blades attached to their feet fight until seriously injured or killed. A person could enter a bird into fights for an entry fee, which in some cases was a $,500 charge. They would then be told what weapons to attach to the bird’s leg, which included short and long knives or spurs.

William Colón “Jim” Easterling, 77, owned and operated the cockfighting business for “many years.” He enlisted the help of his family members, including his 25-year-old granddaughter Amber Easterling.

He was sentenced to two years of house arrest and fined $8,000. He will serve his sentence at home because imprisonment was determined to be “extremely detrimental” due to his deteriorating health.

Amber Easterling was sentenced to one year of probation. Her role in the operation was to sell weapons used in cockfighting at a merchandise stand.

George William “Billy” Easterling, 56; Brent Colon Easterling, 38; and William “Tyler” Easterling, 30, were sentenced to prison terms and subsequent supervised release.

Brent Easterling carries the longest sentence to two years. He is considered a widely known breeder of fighting birds on his L & L Gamefarm. He also helped his father, Jim, promote the fights. His wife, Kassi, 39, was sentenced to two years’ probation, including six months of house arrest.

George Easterling was sentenced to 22 months and his son William Easterling was sentenced to 20 months. They also operated a bird breeding business, Swift Creek Gamefarm, which raised and shipped fighting birds. His brother-in-law Thomas Glyn “Junior” Williams, 34, worked on the farm. He was sentenced to one year of probation.

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