POSTED: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 3:27pm
UPDATED: Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 12:27pm
HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — An illegal 8-liner ring in Alton is busted wide open after thieves robbed it at gunpoint on Thursday night.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office says four gunmen raided the place at about midnight.
Around 45 people were inside playing the machines. The men robbed them of phones, jewelry, watches and just about anything with value.
"This is one of those times were I can tell the public, I told you so," said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino. "These illegal gambling places are a magnet for criminality, a magnet for crime. And I'm really really surprised and we're very fortunate nobody got hurt."
The gaming operation had around 40 machines. By the time Sheriff's Deputies arrived, many of the gamblers had already fled the area.
One of the 8-liner patrons called 911 after the robbery. Coming to one of these places is a class C misdemeanor. The sheriff says that he's willing to forgive that if some people come back as witnesses.
"I'm asking those people that were here last night, that fled to please come and present themselves to the Sheriff's Office," Trevino said. "They are not in danger of being arrested."
Cameron County has had several recent high-profile crackdowns on 8-liner rings. In the last two days, a pair of the operations have grabbed headlines in Hidalgo County.
"What they're doing now is they're moving from Cameron County into Hidalgo County, and they're running clandestine operations in residential areas and private homes," Trevino said.
The Sheriff says he knows this because the machines from the robbery have Cameron County seals and permits.