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Houston News: Twelve arrested in organized crime sweep at Paradise Bingo Hall

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Jesse Quackenbush

bingo

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced Friday a massive sweep of an alleged gambling and organized crime ring at a local bingo hall and five other game rooms.

Twelve people have been arrested on charges of engaging in organized crime, and investigators seized the Paradise Bingo Hall on College, along with cash, guns and ammunition. (Which you can see in the photos above.)

Authorities also found several safes and a bunker that held a cache of firearms, ammunition and military-style provisions made for long-term storage until they are needed.

“There was a bunker here; it may be something more Doomsdayish,” said Anderson, who stressed that the investigation continues.

“Every weapon will be looked at , every serial number run to see if they were stolen or used in any other crimes,” she said.

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Lt. Ruben Diaz, of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, said it was as many weapons as he’d ever seen confiscated at one time.

“It was enough to start a small war in this area if they wanted to,” he said. “They were pretty scary to have in this building.”

The firearms, along with the ammunition were allegedly purchased with illegal gains from the operations.

Those charged were allegedly part of a ring that made money off illegal gambling machines that were housed at some of the bingo locations as well as stocked automatic teller machines with their illegally gained cash.

The investigation by members of the special crimes division and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office took nearly a year and involved undercover work as well as surveillance aimed at the alleged leaders of the organization that allegedly did millions of dollars in business.

“This place is closed,” an unidentified officer told a motorist who pulled up to the building Friday in an SUV and parked in a disabled parking spot before driving away.

Orange notices stuck to the windows of the bingo hall indicate it was seized as criminal contraband. The white building, with a large signs reading, “Daytime Bingo” and “Nighttime Bingo,” is in a largely empty commercial shopping center beside a Waffle House and Dairy Queen.

The bingo hall, outfitted with at least four surveillance cameras focused on the parking lot, also features a peeling Chamber of Commerce sticker stuck to the door.

Inside are tables and chairs for a few hundred people, with an American flag hanging at the front of the large room above an automatic teller machine.

A listing of “house rules” includes #8: Absolutely no gambling of any kind will be allowed.

Plaques of thanks on the wall from the Shriners and the South Houston Police also hang on the walls.

Story provided by Houston Chronicle. 

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