SAN DIEGO — Law enforcement officers in California raided dozens of illegal gambling dens in San Diego Wednesday, capping a years-long investigation that has resulted in nearly 50 people facing federal gambling, gun and drug charges, authorities said.
More than 450 officers, led by an FBI task force, fanned out in East San Diego in morning raids on two dozen locations that ended with 35 arrests, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
A total of 47 people are charged in a series of federal indictments unsealed Wednesday. Some were accused of selling methamphetamine to gamblers.
During a two-year investigation, authorities seized more than 12 pounds of meth, 640 gambling machines, 44 guns and more than $260,000 in cash, authorities said.
Authorities raided what they say were illegal gambling parlors inside apartments, outbuildings, small businesses and strip malls that took in thousands of dollars a day.
Authorities said they have been associated with violence and drug sales, some of it linked to gangs.
“According to court records, it is common for employees to hand out small amounts of methamphetamine and ‘comp’ customers to keep them playing and coming back for more,” the U.S. attorney’s office statement said.
“It’s rare to have a patron who does not use or sell methamphetamine inside these locations,” the statement said.
Along with alleged drug dealers, those arrested today include the alleged business owners along with “employees who acted as doormen, security and bankers; those who audit the machines; and those who collect the money,” the statement said.
“We have taken down the illegal gambling dens, and we have lifted a weight off our neighborhoods,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “Law-abiding citizens who live in these neighborhoods will be safer without these magnets for crime in their midst.”