Murder at Miami cockfight remains a mystery
In an arena hidden among ramshackle farms and nurseries west of Hialeah, spilling blood was a regular occurrence.
Usually, the dead were ferocious roosters, the losers in cockfights put on for rowdy gamblers. This time, the blood staining the fighting ring came from the man refereeing the brutal matches — shot dead at close range in the middle of the crowded arena.
Detectives found Jose Raudel Garcia, 46, known as “El Ruso” or “The Russian,” slumped over inside the ring, a bag of refereeing equipment still hanging around his neck, his body riddled with bullets.
Two months later, the murder of the cockfighting ref remains unsolved. There are some reasons why. The blood sport, billed as family entertainment in Florida a half century ago, has been pushed deep underground, pursued only in secret unlicensed arenas like the one where the patrons quickly flew the coop after the brazen killing.
Garcia was well-known in cockfighting circles but nobody at the shooting ever called the cops. Instead, his family did after getting the word. When police finally got there at least an hour later, they found dozens of warrior roosters, some dead and thrown in trashcans, others awaiting combat in rows of cages.