When a famous football player was accused of illegal dog fighting, authorities were already aware of the underlying dog fighting culture in many hoods and ghettoes. Public awareness has helped put the underground dog fighting industry under control.
Now there is a new problem threatening the streets: illegal Beta fish fighting.
It appears that dog fighters have traded in their pitbulls for Siamese Fighting Fish, aka Beta fish. Several linked cases of illegal beta fish fighting have sprung up in cities like Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
"With the recession, it makes sense that people are going to look for a cheaper alternative to dog fighting," notes economist Sabine Walls. "Beta fish cost about three or four dollars apiece, while your average pit bull goes for a couple hundred."
According to police reports, the fights usually take place in basements of abandoned buildings. In Baltimore about five raids have taken place. It has proven much more difficult for the city police department to catch and apprehend illegal beta fish fighters than dog fighters. One detective, who wants to remain anonymous, has been following the Baltimore cases and trying to predict what the best plan of action is.
"In the raids we've done so far, only one was successful. Here's what we know: the equipment usually consists of just a clear tank. We've seen one situation where a jar was used. The drug dealers form a circle around the tank and someone is named the judge. All bets are placed on the floor near the tank as the "pot", and then both fish are put into the tank. The judge calls when one fish is dead, and the winner takes the pot. We have evidence suggesting in one night, sometimes as many as thirty beta fish fights take place."
It is not only easy to set up for a beta fish fight, but it is easy to clean up after. In fact, the detective claims to have found an entire beta fish graveyard, where whopping numbers of dead beta fish are buried. "It is truly a sad, sad sight."
When asked about the one successful raid, the detective teared up a little. "It was horrible. We saw jars everywhere in the guys' home. Beta fish living in the worst of conditions. They were being fed steroids and creatine. They had tiny cramped spaces and were forced to sit next to each other and smash against the glass for endless hours trying to attack each other. Some swam in their own fecal matter and urine, and others had no where to move, surrouded with hundreds of tiny fry (baby Betas). We seized at least a hundred Betas from his home."
Neighborhood watch and community programs are trying to enact a Beta Fish Fight Awareness campaign to educate their residents.
"God didn't make Siamese Fighting Fish for fighting!" yells an enraged activist.