The FBI, U.S. Homeland Security as well as San Diego and Chula Vista law enforcement agencies conducted raids in San Diego early Wednesday morning. The operation targeted at least five locations, including homes and one business in the City Heights area.
Update at 4:00pm - The FBI has revealed that the raids followed a two-year investigation which was "Closely tied to gangs, drugs, and violence." The result of the investigation and raids has lead to 35 arrests, 47 indictments by a Federal Grand Jury and the seizure of:
- over 12 pounds of methanphatamine
- 640 gambling machines
- 44 firearms
- $263,000 in cash
Six different homes and businesses along 41st and 45th Streets in City Heights and surrounding neighborhoods were operating illegal gambling dens featuring poker, blackjack, keno and slot games, which also selling meth. Officials estimate that the crime ring took in thousands of dollars every day.
“We have taken down the illegal gambling dens, and we have lifted a weight off our neighborhoods,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. “Law-abiding citizens who live in these neighborhoods will be safer without these magnets for crime in their midst.”
It was also revealed that legitimate businesses "acted as doormen, security and bankers" for the gambling dens, and other businesses and residents while not actively involved chose to look the other way for a fee.
“It is common for gambling den owners to pay rent in cash to the owners of these properties and, in some cases, a percentage of the profits to cast a blind eye to all the foot traffic,” the agency release explained.
The 47 people actively involved in gambling ring are facing the following chargers: conspiracy, operating illegal gambling businesses, maintaining drug involved premises, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, distribution of methamphetamine, importation of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearm and felon in possession of ammunition.
Update at 12:30pm - The raids appear to be tied to an underground gambling ring. Federal agents were seen removing electronic gambling equipment from a business on University Avenue called CHINA Beauty Salon and loading onto evidence trucks.
Just after midnight, witnesses reported several patrol cars and official vehicles in the target areas. Flashbangs and K-9 units were used to draw people from the buildings and at least 12 people were detained by heavily armed authorities who were also seen collecting and removing evidence from the targeted buildings. The map below shows confirmed targeted raid locations, which include a residence on 19th Street in Quincy.
When asked about the operation, the FBI told NBC7 that the combined law enforcement agencies are "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity."
The FBI has set up a temporary headquarters for this operation at the former Chargers training facility off of Murphy Canyon Road and have stated that the U.S. Attorney's Office will provide more details later in the day.
This article will be updated as more information is announced.
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