A Romanian princess and her former sheriff's deputy husband are among the 18 indicted in the bust of an alleged Oregon cockfighting ring, with the group accused of orchestrating10 such "derbies" since April of last year.
Former Coos County sheriffy's deputy John Wesley Walker, 67, and his 60-year-old wife Irina Walker were arrested in eastern Oregon Thursday for their connection in the cockfighting ring, as well as their alleged involvement in illegal gambling at their Stokes Landing Sport Horses ranch.
Read more from GlobalPost: Cockfighting: cruelty or culture?
“Cockfighting is illegal under federal law and under the laws of all 50 states,” Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, stated, according to KGW.com. “Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts.”
Federal prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the ranch owned by the couple, writes the Associated Press. The Walkers and four others are to be arraigned in federal court in Portland today, to be charged with operating an illegal gambling business.
Twelve other participants from Oregon and Washington are to be arraigned for conspiracy to violate the federal Animal Welfare Act, writes OregonLive.
Irina Walker is the daughter of Romania's King Michael I, the last king of the European nation who reigned off-and-on from 1927 until 1947, when the Romanian Communist party forced him to abdicate the throne. Born in 1921, Michael I is still alive — and is one of only two surviving heads of state from the WWII era.
An ancient pursuit that's still popular in many nations, cockfighters battle two trained chickens against one another, often equipping the birds with sharp spurs on their legs to increase their effectiveness.
Although it's been made illegal in the US, cockfighting rings still operate in many locations, with some participants arguing that it is an important cultural tradition.
Here's video of Mexican cockfighting — probably best not viewed by the sensitive.