VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas — More than 40 people were cited and eight people were arrested in a sweep of illegal gambling business in Van Zandt County last night.
The execution of search and arrest warrants at the four illegal gambling businesses, as well as residences in Smith and Gregg Counties, was the culmination of a lengthy, multi-agency investigation, the van Zandt County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office announced earlier today.
Of those arrested, police say they face charges for engaging in organized criminal activity, money laundering, possession of gambling devices, and operating a gambling establishment. At the time of press, police had not identified those arrested and said that several other arrests warrants remained outstanding.
"The search warrants resulted in the seizure of approximately $70,000.00, 4 guns, and a stolen vehicle," read a statement from the Van Zand County Sheriff's Office. "Additionally officers discovered a federal fugitive at one of the gambling businesses."
Van Zandt County District Attorney Tonda Curry said investigators are aware that several convenience stores throughout the county have electronic gambling devices in their establishments and said the latest sweep should be "handwriting on the wall" to have them removed.
"Throughout the course of the investigation we were able to document the increase in associated crimes like burglary and robbery that these illegal establishments bring with them," Curry added.
Curry says many of the patrons who visited and played the gambling devises were from outside the county.
"To now know that the owners and operators picked Van Zandt County to open the illegal establishments and attract people from outside the county to come here to commit their crimes is particularly offensive to our community," stated Curry.
“An investigation of this magnitude does not happen overnight," she said. "It takes persistence, diligence and the patience to keep dedicating resources to the fine details without seeing immediate results."
The Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, Wills Point Police Department, Edgewood Police Department, Grand Saline Police Department, Henderson Police Department, Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Unted States Marshal’s Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided in the investigation and execution of search and arrests warrants.