Earlier this month, Bexar County’s police force announced that it had raided an illegal gambling operation in San Antonio, Texas. 100 functioning gaming machines were seized from the average looking building during a court-ordered raid. The property was also home to about 200 broken gaming machines. The large property is expected to be the location for several other criminal activities including drug dealing and human trafficking.
At the time of the raid, 29 people were apprehended. Some of these individuals were present when the raid took place. Of these 29 people, eight individuals were arrested and jailed for varying offences. According to the police department, the offences range from ID Theft and outstanding warrants to the violation of protective orders. Officials believe that the charges against the detained individuals are likely to grow to include organized crime. All detainees, both men and women, are residents of the San Antonio area and are being held as a result of the raid.
Javier Salazar, Bexar County’s Sheriff, shared that many of his officers are 20 or 30-year law enforcement veterans and everyone has agreed that the latest raid revealed one of the most extensive illegal gambling operations to be seen in decades.
Salazar shared that forthcoming criminal conspiracy charges are likely. There is little doubt whether the operation involves gang activities and/or an organized crime unit. Salazar also predicts that at least one foreign country will be involved in the criminal activities. This is especially true if the evidence of human trafficking can produce solid intel.
Law enforcement officers found a 16-year-old girl in the building at the time of the raid. While the Sheriff was not at liberty to share more, he confirmed that the girl had been sent home after being interviewed by his deputies. The interview was conducted to ascertain whether the girl was a victim of a crime or not. In addition to this, police confiscated $130,000 in cash, $45,000 worth of varying property and motor vehicles to the value of $175,000. Seven handguns were also discovered and seized. Deputies have committed to searing all of the seized gaming machines to check for hidden money.
For several months, neighbours and residents of the area noticed nefarious activities taking place in the nondescript building. Since last year, police officials have responded to 5 911 calls relating to suspicious activity at the site of the building. Prior to the raid, the Sheriff’s office approved a covert mission for investigators to pose as gamblers. The evidence collected during this activity was enough to receive a court order from a judge. Authorities are currently trying to seize the property, which is valued at $800,000. During the raid, officers found a large number of hidden rooms, compartments and floors that required greater investigation.
Residents who witnessed the raid showed deputies their approval and support by giving them thumbs-up signs. Other praises followed on the Sheriff’s department’s social media accounts. However, some of those who posted on the social media accounts indicated that the legalization of commercial gambling in Texas state would prevent these horrible situations from happening. One commenter stated that Texans already buy scratch-off cards, which is gambling, so everything else should be legalized too.
Texas legislators are currently considering giving Texas residents what they are asking for. This would require a process and a strict path to be followed before commercial casino gaming could be introduced in the state. However, this is a conversation that has been going on for several months. Lawmakers are not likely to approve or begin this process soon.