UPDATE, 8/12/21: Arrest records show that Jesus Fernandez was arrested on Wednesday at around 2:45 p.m. and then released on a $10,000 bond.

ORIGINAL POST: MORGAN CITY, La. (KLFY) — A Morgan City man is being sought by the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office (SMPSO) on 147 counts of cockfighting and 151 counts of animal cruelty in an investigation dating back to Sept. 2020.

Jesus Fernandez, 61, of Morgan City, was previously arrested on Aug. 7 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, transactions involving drug proceeds and improper lane usage, according to SMPSO Public Information Officer David Spencer.

Fernandez was initially arrested as part of a traffic stop, where K-9 officers found drugs, drug paraphernalia and cash. Continuing their investigation, St. Mary Parish deputies also found chickens in cages that appeared to have been used in cockfighting, said Spencer. Fernandez was arrested and transported to the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center for booking and was later released on a $31,750 bond.

As the investigation progressed, Spencer said a search warrant was executed on Aug. 10 at a residence in Amelia with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Toney Wade with the Cruelty Investigation Task Force. Chickens, sheep, and other animals were found to be in poor condition and were without proper food and water. Dead chickens were also found on the property. In total, Spencer said 166 chickens and 16 goats/sheep were seized.

As part of the investigation, Artemio Rodriguez, 43, and Maria Ortiz, 44, both of Amelia, were arrested on a warrant for animal cruelty. Both were released on a summons to appear on Nov. 2.

Sheriff Blaise Smith says that a warrant has been obtained for Fernandez on the charges of cockfighting (147 counts) and animal cruelty (151 counts).

“Animal cruelty will not be tolerated in St. Mary Parish,” said Smith. “My message is simple… if you know something, say something. Contact us with any information you have concerning this.”

Citizens with information on the location of Jesus Fernandez may call and report it to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Communications Section at (337) 828-1960.