Police in Phnom Penh arrested 20 men during separate raids on two cockfighting rings in the city, although the busts netted only one fighting bird, as most of the owners managed to escape, police said Tuesday.
Along with the single cock, police also seized five motorcycles and several sets of dice during the raids on the illegal rings, which had been operating on empty plots of land in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune and Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune.
Police said several of the men arrested were local moto-taxi drivers who were released after it was determined that they were not involved in the cockfighting. More than half of those arrested are being detained at the municipal minor crimes department, and are expected to be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.
The raids, which were not coordinated, came after local residents tipped off police, although many of the owners and organizers managed to escape before authorities arrived.
“When the police went down there [to Stung Meanchey], some of them escaped with cocks or dice, but some were still gathering at the place, so we arrested those ones,” said Bun Sathya, chief of the municipal minor crimes department, adding that nine men were detained in the commune.
The Srah Chak raid resulted in 11 arrests, he said.
In total, Mr. Sathya said, “we detained more than 10 men for questioning and the others were allowed to go back to their homes after they were educated. They were not involved with the gambling.”
In April, police arrested 15 men in Srah Chak for betting on cockfighting, the latest form of gambling to be outlawed in Cambodia.
Prime Minister Hun Sen himself ordered an end to the brutal game in 2009, when he singled out Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who in 2006 hosted the “Cambodian Slasher Cup” at his home in Takeo province.
On the day of the Slasher Cup, Seng Savorn, then-press director at the Council of Ministers, said that the eventual winner would be “a national hero.”