Police seize, destroy local gambling machines
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The Miami Police department is cracking down on business owners with illegal gambling machines commonly referred to as "maquinitas" in Spanish.
The gambling machines have been a controversial topic in the City of Miami for the last couple of years. In fact, some have even said it led to the ousting of former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito, who was adamant about seizing the gaming machines while others believed that the machines should be licensed so that the city could tax them for revenue. However, in March, the state passed a law that prohibits the electronic gaming machines, and new Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa wants the community to know that they are taking the issue seriously.
On Thursday morning undercover police officers started seizing and destroying the illegal devices. Officers will continue to visit businesses throughout the day and plan to make arrests wherever they find any of the illegal gambling machines, which work on a principal of chance and not skill.
By noon officials had already destroyed about 50 gaming machines that were confiscated two years ago, but it was not until now that a court approved their destruction.
Miami Chief Manuel Orosa said, "Today we're actually collecting a whole bunch of maquinitas. That is why we have gone undercover the last two weeks, spotting them and making a list of locations, and as we speak right now, my people are out and making the arrests for the possession of these machines."
On Thursday evening, police also released undercover video shot by Miami Police officers showing the machines still in operation at local businesses even after the state legislature outlawed them.
City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said, "The court finally decided that these machines were used for illegal purposes, and by destroying the machines the chief wants to send a clear message that the City of Miami will be following the state law." He added, "The message that the police chief is trying to send here is that the city is following the law. That it doesn't matter who is the chief of police, that the City of Miami Police Department is trying to get the bad guys and the bad things in the city."
Regalado said he supports the enforcement of the law. "I'm very happy that the State of Florida finally decided to determine what is legal and what is illegal."
However, several years ago, Regalado butted heads with Exposito, who was behind the measure to confiscate the gaming machines before state legislation, and this in part, may have cost him his job. Meanwhile, Regalado wanted owners of the gaming machines to pay the city a licensing fee. This never happened and became a moot issue after the legislature jumped in. So now the mayor and Miami Police chief are on the same page, as the gaming machines are hauled away.
Officials currently have about 100 more machines in a warehouse but cannot destroy them until it is approved by a court.
Police officers have given at least six people notices to appear in court and have seized 10 illegal gaming machines.
Miami Police will continue to visit local businesses to check for the illegal gaming machines to see if there is probable cause to remove them.
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