Date published: May 6, 2021, 07: 08 hrs.
Last updated: May 6, 2021, 07: 08 hrs.
Up to 100 working slot machines were seized from a nondescript yellow building in San Antonio, Texas, during a court-ordered raid Wednesday. Other 200 or so non-functioning gaming machines were also discovered.
The 20, 000 to 30, 000 square foot site is also suspected as a site for human trafficking and illegal drug dealing, according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
The sheriff's office released video to Casino.org of busy machines crowded into a room. Here's what they found.
Many of us who are here are 20 -, 30 - year veterans of law enforcement and everyone here, we all agree, this is the most extensive gambling operation any of us have ever seen in a couple of decades, " Salazar said, standing near the building.
Twenty-nine people were detained after the raid. Of these, eight were arrested and imprisoned for various crimes.
These include outstanding warrants, identity theft and violation of an order of protection. Salazar said additional charges against the detainees could include organized crime charges.
Those arrested were both male and female. All are from the San Antonio area, Salazar said.
Gang members possibly connected to the operation
Salazar predicted there could be criminal conspiracy charges. Salazar said the operation includes organized crime and likely gang members. Illegal activities could also include people from at least one foreign nation, Salazar said.
There, deputies located a 16-year-old girl. She was returned to her family.
Deputies questioned her to see if she was a victim of a crime . There was evidence of human trafficking in the building.
Among the items seized in the raid were: 130, 000 in cash. Vehicles estimated at $ 175, 000.
$ 45, 000 various assets such as tools were also seized. Seven firearms were also seized.
Deputies plan to continue to search all gaming machines for additional money.
Salazar called the building "a vast part of the estate..." It's all mazes, makeshift rooms and hidden rooms, hidden compartments. "
Later, the authorities will try to take over the building. Its value is over $ 800, 000.
During the raid, deputies saw the new construction taking place. "They were dividing the floors into first and second floors," - Salazar said. "I'm doing a lot of work. Pretty obvious they had big plans to expand this operation.
I think at the right time "- added Salazar.
For months, neighbors have been concerned about the despicable activity taking place in the building. Since 2020, police have responded to five calls related to suspicious activity at the site.
the sheriff's office sent undercover investigators who pretended to be gamblers. They presented their findings to a judge, and the raid under court order was approved.
Praise for sheriff's deputies
Residents seeing deputies at the scene after the raid gave them a sign with a raised thumb. Other praise was posted on the sheriff's department's Facebook page.
For example, Louisa Garza wrote: "Awesome Job ... Get them off our street. We don't want that in our city. "
Also, some posters on the Facebook page want to see legal commercial gambling introduced in Texas.
For example, one poster, Joe Martinez, said: "They should just legalize the gambling we buy, scratch cards are gambling."
Texas lawmakers are currently considering approving a pathway to commercial casinos in the state. But it is unlikely to be approved any time soon.