BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Gunmen carrying AK-47s stormed an underground casino near the Texas border firing several shots to scare patrons and managed to get away with cash from the establishment.
The robbery took place on July 4th at a packed underground casino in rural Cameron County, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office revealed.
One patron called 911 saying that she was playing at the casino when she heard unknown men yelling at people. A second witness said she heard one of the gunmen yell out in Spanish “this is a robbery” and soon after various shots went off.
What are known as underground casinos in South Texas are generally warehouses, trailers or other structures outfitted with dozens of arcade gaming machines.
While arcades are legal in Texas and city ordinances have been set up in some rural communities to tax the business, authorities have been targeting those businesses since they have been paying out their prizes in cash which makes them illegal.
Generally, older individuals are the ones that visit underground casinos and the practice is considered by many along the Texas border as harmless entertainment. However, according to law enforcement officials that have spoken various times with Breitbart Texas on the matter, underground casinos or “maquinitas” are an easy money laundering tool for organized crime members.
The robbery at the casino appears to emphasize what various law enforcement officials along the Texas border have been saying – that underground casinos commonly known as eight-liners act like a magnet for crime.
“Because these establishments are already operating illegally, owners don’t generally call authorities when a robbery, assault or other very dangerous crime occurs making them highly targeted.” District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said to Breitbart Texas in prepared statement. “We’ve said it before and we will continue to say it. The illegal 8-liner industry draws more criminal activity that puts patrons in extreme danger.”
Just one day before the robbery in Cameron County, in the neighboring county of Hidalgo, the sheriff’s office raided a similar establishment in a rural area near the border city of Edinburg. The casino had previously been a church.
During that raid, deputies detained and released with a warning, approximately 100 individuals who had been gambling at the place, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office revealed.
In that case authorities seized dozens of machines and arrested three of the employees who were running the casino.