MIAMI (CBS4) – Five people were arrested Wednesday after a bust at a Southwest Miami-Dade cafeteria suspected of disguising an illegal gaming operation.
From the street, the OK Mini Market seems to be a typical cafeteria.
Sandwiches and pastries are sold there six days a week to customers along Southwest 107 Avenue.
But hidden behind a back door, at a spot marked “Satan’s Cove”, police uncovered an illegal gambling facility .
A row of electronic gaming machines,known in South Florida as “maquinitas”, were found blinking brightly after a year-long investigation.
“In the rear section of the cafeteria, there were several coin operated machines,” Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta explained. “In fact, when they executed the search warrant there were several people gambling at the time the officers entered the room.”
All gambling seized when police moved in wearing bulletproof vests.
Cafeteria patrons left stunned.
“They didn’t say anything at all,” William Rhodes said as he drove away.
“I thought they were just here for the coffee,” James Brewer said with a smile outside the cafeteria.
These types coin-operated gambling machines are now illegal in the state.
Back in April, city of Miami officials made a show of destroying many maquinitas.
The machines found Wednesday are headed to police impound.
In all, 5 people were arrested, among them 64-year-old Jesus Abreu and his wife Odalys.
Both are facing several charges including “keeping a house of gambling” and bookmaking.
The family operates the Abreu Sports Amusement Corp., Det. Zabaleta said.
According to sunbiz.org, OK Minimarket is registered to Odalys Abreu.
The couple’s relatives showed up at the cafeteria unhappy to see a camera capturing the bust.
One woman grabbed the camera before police told her to let go.
Angel Padron, 70, and Juan Martinez, 62, were arrested, too.
Both are charged as “agents of a house of gambling”.
Kenia Hernandez, 38, is facing charges of obstruction and resisting arrest without violence.
Police said Jesus Abreu has been arrested at least twice before on similar gambling charges.
It’s been reported the Abreus’ local connections run deep.
Our partners at the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have previously reported the Abreus and their businesses have made campaign contributions in the past to politicians including former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
“It’s Miami,” Brewer said. “I’m not surprised.”
Police said more than $4,000 was seized in the bust.