St. Mary Parish Deputies have made arrests in a months-long investigation into animal cruelty.
The investigation began in September 2020 into 61-year-old Jesus Fernandez of Morgan City allegedly selling drugs and being involved in fighting chickens in the area.
On August 7, a St. Mary Parish detective conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle and made contact with the driver, Fernandez. During the stop, a K9 deputy conducted an open-air sniff of the area around the car, resulting in the deputy locating drugs, drug paraphernalia, and cash, according the sheriff's office. Detectives also found chickens in cages that appeared to have been used in cockfighting, a spokesperson says. Fernandez was arrested on improper lane usage and drug charges, booked, and later released on a $31,750 bond.
As the investigation progressed, deputies say a search warrant was executed on August 10 at a residence in Amelia with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cruelty Investigation Task Force.
At the residence, chickens, sheep, and other animals were found to be in poor condition and were without proper food and water, deputies say. Dead chickens were also found on the property; a total of 166 chickens and 16 goats/sheep were seized.
Artemio Rodriguez, 43, of Amelia, and Maria Ortiz, 44, of Amelia were both arrested on a warrant for animal cruelty. They were released on a summons to appear on November 2, 2021.
A warrant was obtained for Jesus Fernandez on cockfighting (147 counts) and animal cruelty (151 counts).
"Animal cruelty will not be tolerated in St. Mary Parish," said sheriff Blaise Smith. "My message is simple. If you know something, say something. Contact us with any information you have concerning this."
Anyone with information on Fernandez's whereabouts is asked to call the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office at 337-828-1960.
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