An apparent Romanian princess and her former cop husband are among the 18 people rounded up in Oregon and Washington on Thursday as authorities cracked down on an alleged cockfighting ring in the two states, according to the state's attorney’s office.
Irina Walker and her husband, former sheriff’s deputy John Wesley Walker, were among those arrested in connection with at least 10 cockfighting derbies between April 2012 and May of this year, the state's attorney’s office said in a release. Irina Walker is the third daughter of the last king of Romania, Michael I, local newspaper The Oregonian reported.
A statement on the Romanian royal family’s website acknowledged the princess’ arrest, calling it an “unhappy event.”
“His Royal Majesty King Michael I has learned with profound sadness of the events surrounding Princess Irina of Romania, his daughter,” the statement from the king’s press bureau read. “His Majesty and the entire royal family hope that the American justice system and the courts of the state of Oregon will solve this case in the fairest and quickest way possible.”
John and Irina Walker, were charged along with Mario Perez, David Sanchez, Jose Luis Virgen Ramirez, and Aurelia Garcia Mendoza, with operating an illegal gambling business, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday. Those six were charged along with a dozen others with conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act by running a cockfighting ring.
The indictment draws a picture of the outlaw sport, in which participants strap a knife or other sharp implement to a pair of roosters and goad them into fighting one another, usually resulting in the death of at least one of the birds. The cockfights, which the indictment alleges took place in Irrigon, Ore., involved a network of promoters, food vendors, handlers and spectators.
“Cockfighting is illegal under federal law and under the laws of all 50 states,” Amanda Marshall, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, said in a release. “Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts.”
John Walker married Irina Kreuger in 2007, according to the Oregonian. She is fifth in line to the throne, the paper reported, and has only returned to the country where her family maintains a number of castles a few times.