BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Illegal bets, tons of cash, several arrests and a couple of firearms – that’s what CBS4 News cameras saw Thursday night during a ride along with the Broward Sheriff’s Office as they continued efforts to bust up a major illegal gambling operation in the county.
Four people are accused of keeping a gambling house and bookmaking and investigators with BSO said this case is more than a year in the making and stretches from the Dominican Republic through South Florida and into New York.
Just after 6 p.m., deputies and SWAT members descended on five different locations in northern Broward County.
Sgt. Dan Fitzpatrick walked us through several alleged illegal gambling operations. One in Pompano Beach had stacks of cash, a walk up window, a computer and lots of betting slips.
“You’ll receive a computer generated ticket just like this for your bet,” Fitzpatrick showed us. “He took Major League Baseball. He took Los Angeles.”
BSO arrested a guy for running the operation. He didn’t want to talk to CBS4 News.
Fitzpatrick said these types of gambling operations are becoming more prolific in the county and because it’s a cash-based business generally located in high crime areas, there’s a high potential for violence.
“It’s ripe for armed robberies, shootings, which we’ve had several of,” he explained. “These places will get taken down. We had one about two minutes away from here taken down by three guys with AK-47s.”
At the location, Fitzpatrick said someone inside dropped a Glock.
“When the SWAT team was making entry into the location, somebody threw down a firearm right away,” Fitzpatrick said.
A few blocks away in Deerfield, BSO busted three businesses in a shopping plaza on Sample Road. At one business that appeared to be a clothing store in the front, Fitzpatrick said there’s a gambling operation in the back.
“Based on our surveillance, if they sell any clothes at all, it’s very seldom,” he said. “We have never seen them sell any clothing.”
The woman working at the store wasn’t happy.
“They say you were taking illegal sports bets here,” a reporter asked her.
“I don’t want to talk about it, please,” she said.
At another business, BSO showed us the gambling website open and running.
BSO hopes the busts might mean less violence on our streets.
“It’s just a matter of time before we have a homicide and we’re trying to prevent that obviously by eliminating these places,” he said.
So far, BSO says they’ve seized about half a million dollars in this yearlong investigation.
Investigators said they’re also going after the higher ups in this organization and they expect to take them down soon on racketeering charges.