Police investigate illegal gambling at Waco Minimart, throughout the city

Photo by Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

Police are conducting an ongoing investigation into illegal gambling at a minimart at 5303 Sanger Ave. regarding illegal gambling.

The store, called Mini Mart, was discovered by the police to be illegally operating gambling machines Tuesday afternoon. An arrest warrant is out for the individual or individuals police believe was running the business, who they have yet to apprehend.

“Shortly after one o’clock this afternoon, our officers served a search and arrest warrant at a location of 5303 Sanger Ave,” Sgt. Patrick Swanton of Waco police said. “The business is named Mini Mart; however, we know it as an illegal gambling operation. When our officers served the search and arrest warrant, we discovered there are 16 electronic gambling gaming machines inside the place of business.”

Swanton said the department gets numerous complaints regarding these “gaming” rooms, saying there are currently cases being built against other potential places running illegal gambling businesses.

“The main reason that we’re doing this is because we know that these types of illegal gambling operations breed other crimes such as robberies, thefts, burglaries of motor vehicles, drugs are dealt there. We often find illegal weapons, things along that line,” Swanton said.

Swanton said these illegal gambling set-ups will not be tolerated in the Waco community. As soon as police become aware of a potential gambling, they start an investigation. If it leads to probable cause, police will use a search warrant on such places.

“A lot of times that money is being sent overseas, possibly to fund terrorism,” Swanton said. “It is not reported income through the IRS. None of that goes back to the good of the city, and often times it’s used for the illegal purchase of narcotics and other illegal activites that go along with the illegal gambling.”

Gloria Ramirez, manager of the Boost Mobile store next door to Mini Mart, said she had seen the owners come in multiple times for electronics. Ramirez said the store opened not too long ago.

“At first, like the first week, I did not know it was a game room. I would see the next door place, it was pretty busy at all times,” Ramirez said. “I asked one of my customers that came in, ‘Do you know what they have next door?’ and the customer said it was a game room. I didn’t know what it was when it first opened, though.”

Ramirez said the owners’ sister was at the location when the police showed up, but the owners were not there. People at the machines were told to leave but did not receive any punishment, according to both Ramirez and Swanton.