Police seize over $4K in illegal gambling machines
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Miami-Dade undercover investigators seized more than $4,000 in illegal gambling machines at a South Florida mini-market, Wednesday afternoon.
"I thought they were just here for the coffee," said an onlooker.
The investigators were after illegal gambling machines, nicknamed "maquinitas," which were located in a room at the back of the OK Minimarket, located on Southwest 107th Avenue and 30th Street in Southwest Miami-Dade. "When the detectives were executing the search warrant, there were several people gambling at the time the officers entered the room," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
Seizure of the maquinitas remains an ongoing issue in South Florida. Before the South Florida legislature outlawed the machines, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado favored having the owners pay a licensing fee, a measure lawmakers made moot.
Among those arrested on Wednesday was Jesus Abreu, the owner of the OK Minimarket and his wife Odalys. Also taken into custody was 68-year-old Angel Padron and 62-year-old Juan Martinez. All of them are facing gambling-related charges. Thirty-eight-year old Kenia Hernandez was charged with obstruction of justice.
Witnesses said they support law enforcement's actions. "I think the police are doing what they should be doing, I guess," said a man from inside his car.
"I work in the kitchen," a worker said through a translator. "The bathroom, the grill, dish washing, and no, I've never gone back there," he said.
Etched on the concrete outside the back door leading to the room where the illegal machines were located is "La Cueva de Satan," or "Satan's Cave" in Spanish.
"The formal charges at this time are keeping a house of gambling, gambling, [possession of] prohibited coin-operated machines, and of course, bookmarking as well," said Zabaleta.
Abreu made news a few years ago when he contributed to Regalado's mayoral campaign. He has been arrested on two prior occasions on gambling-related charges.
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