More than two dozen men were arrested Sunday after Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers discovered a cockfighting ring in Desha County, according to an Arkansas Game & Fish Commission news release.

Cpl. Chuck Willis and Wildlife Officer 1st Class Jonathan Byrd were on routine patrol when they saw several vehicles parked near a canal on Hilburn Road off Arkansas Highway 133 near Kelso. Upon further investigation, the officers discovered a large group of people surrounding what they later determined to be a cockfighting ring.

At the scene, there were 20 live chickens and 10 dead chickens along with $5,000 worth of farm equipment believed to have been stolen.

When confronted, several of those at the cockfighting operation reportedly fled on foot but eventually returned.

Twenty-nine men were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

Two juveniles at the operation were not charged.

The suspects are scheduled to appear in Dumas District Court on April 1 at 9 a.m..

The Desha County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police assisted with the arrests.