Law busts suspected gambling operation

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, May 10, 2014

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The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has seized gaming machines from an Alvord truck stop, claiming the owner was running an illegal gambling operation.

Game Over

GAME OVER – Officers load up one of 14 gaming machines seized Wednesday at the Navigator Truck Stop in Alvord. Investigators believe the machines were being used for an illegal gambling operation. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said investigators obtained a search warrant on Wednesday afternoon and confiscated 14 machines at the Navigator Truck Stop on the south side of Alvord on U.S. 81/287. They also seized around $5,700 in cash they believe is tied to the illegal gambling operation.

Walker said investigators are working with County Attorney James Stainton to determine if charges will be filed. He said the owners could face Class A misdemeanor charges of keeping a gambling place and possession of a gambling device, equipment or paraphernalia.

According to the search warrant affidavit written by Sgt. Chad Lanier, he visited the truck stop on the afternoon of April 30 after he had twice previously warned the owner, 36-year-old Arian Yusufzai, that gambling was illegal in Texas.

Lanier said he knocked on one door inside the building and was told to go to the next door. Lanier knocked on the second door and a woman opened it. But before he could enter the room with the gaming machines, Lanier saw Yusufzai open another door to the room and tell people to hurry and leave.

Yusufzai was issued another warning to turn off the machines or face criminal charges.

An hour later, Lanier and other investigators went back to the truck stop to see if Yusufzai was in compliance. They once again witnessed customers playing on the machines and saw the owner once again try to warn customers about the officers. Two customers were issued a citation for gambling, a Class C misdemeanor.

According to the affidavit, Lanier said Yusufzai asked him, “Is there anything I can do to keep the gambling going? It makes me a lot of money, and I won’t be able to keep the store open without the gambling.”

Investigators returned to the truck stop on Monday and once again found customers playing the machines. Three people were issued citations for gambling.

On Wednesday morning, Lanier sent an undercover officer to the truck stop to gamble and get paid in cash. Once he had received a credit of $15, he cashed out by receiving money from the store clerk. The officer went back Wednesday afternoon and used a marked $5 bill to play the machine. He once again cashed out at $15.

A few hours later, after the search warrant had been obtained, officers returned to load the machines onto a flatbed trailer.

As of Friday afternoon, no charges had been filed or arrests had been made in the case.

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