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County Raids More Illegal Gambling Outlets

Operation Bishop Targets Sweepstakes Operators

Authorities confiscated cash registers overflowing with monday and receipts.

Authorities confiscated cash registers overflowing with monday and receipts.

Cameron County, state and federal law enforcement agencies raided two illegal gambling establishments Friday shutting down two sweepstakes businesses. The raids are part of a of an 18-month criminal investigation known as Operation Bishop. Five eight-liner businesses were shutdown in April.

According to Texas Law and the Attorney General, sweepstakes that give cash prizes of $5 or more, even if some or all proceeds benefit a non-profit/charity, are deemed an illegal gambling operation.

The two sweepstakes establishments raided were: Goldmine 777 at 854 N. Expressway 83/77 in Brownsville and Longhorn Sweepstakes at 113 W. Queen Isabella (HWY 100) in Port Isabel. The Goldmine 777 owner, Patricio Ahumada, was arrested and charged with Keeping a Gambling Place – a Class A misdemeanor. The more than 200 computers and other assorted equipment were seized, and forfeiture will be sought.

Operation Bishop will continue through December until all illegal gambling establishments are closed. Two hundred eight-liner/sweepstakes establishments currently operate in the County. Property owners will also be placed on notice that they may face losing their properties if they continue to allow illegal gambling operations in their buildings.

One of the suspect Sweepstakes Games.

One of the suspect Sweepstakes Games.

 

“There is a gross misconception that a Sweepstakes is legal gambling either because they utilize a computer system and/or they benefit a local charity,” said District Attorney Luis V. Saenz. “Bottom line: If a Sweepstakes is paying out at least $5in cash, it is illegal.”

It is estimated that the eight-liner/sweepstakes industry generates at least $300 million annually. The money is known to leave the County and even Texas.

Operation Bishop is the first operation of its kind in terms of number of agencies working together to curtail what is known as a criminal epidemic in Cameron County.

Agencies and entities participating in these raids were: The Department of Homeland Security, FBI, DEA, Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, Cameron County Judge’s Office and Cameron County Emergency Management,
Cameron County Sheriff’s Department, Cameron County Constable’s Office – Precinct 5, Brownsville PD, Port Isabel PD and San Benito PD.

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