VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A lengthy investigation resulted in the execution of search and arrest warrants at four illegal gambling businesses in Van Zandt County Friday night.
According to a press release from Tonda Curry, Van Zandt County Criminal District Attorney, more than 40 people were cited for illegal gambling and eight people were arrested for operating the establishments. The charges for those arrested include engaging in organized criminal activity, money laundering, possession of gambling devices and operating a gambling establishment.
Search warrants were also executed in Smith and Gregg Counties where some of the owners and operators of the establishments live. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of approximately $70,000.00, 4 guns, and a stolen vehicle. Additionally officers discovered a federal fugitive at one of the gambling businesses, the press release said.
Criminal District Attorney Tonda Curry commended the Sheriff’s Department for their patience and diligence in gathering the evidence to support the issuance of the arrest warrants. “An investigation of this magnitude does not happen overnight. It takes persistence, diligence and the patience to keep dedicating resources to the fine details without seeing immediate results. The citizens of the county should be proud of the commitment to law enforcement that our Sheriff’s Office exhibited in this investigation,” Curry said.
Curry added that many of the patrons who came to play the illegal gambling devices were from outside the county. “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. 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.”
The investigation will continue. Several arrest warrants remain outstanding. Curry also noted that both the Criminal District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department are aware that many convenience stores in the county have this type of electronic gambling device in their business. “They should take this as the handwriting on the wall. If they don’t, we will act accordingly,” she stated.