General Crime

Watsonville Police Seize Cash, Business Records, Computers In Raid Of Alleged Gambling Operation

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Watsonville police seized cash, business records and 40 computers Thursday in a raid of an alleged illegal gambling operation inside a business claiming to be a cellphone accessory store, police said today. Detectives and agents from the California Department of Justice served a search warrant at Urban PCS, located in the 900 block of East Lake Avenue, on Thursday following a two-month undercover investigation of the business. Officers and agents found 38 high-end, touch-screen computer stations operating what appeared to be slot machines, police said.

The business claimed to sell cellular phone accessories, but police found only a small display case with cellphone cases and pre-paid cellphones. The computer stations covered most of the floor space of the business, police said. About 20 people who were playing the computer games when officers arrived said Urban PCS employees told them that they were playing a “sweepstakes” game that was legal in California, police said. Officers interviewed and released the patrons and confiscated 40 computer terminals, cash and records kept by the business, police said. Police issued citations for possession of slot machines and offering slot machines for play to two Urban PCS employees, Shaina Romero, 27, and Fabiola Gama, 27, both of Watsonville, police said.

After hearing complaints about the business two months ago, police contacted the Department of Justice, which informed them that the Urban PCS operation violated state anti-gambling laws. The state agency shut down similar businesses throughout the state that have claimed to be offering a “sweepstakes,” police said. Watsonville police and state agents previously entered the business in a series of undercover operations to check and make sure that the games used there were illegal. A person based out of Cape Coral, Fla., had been renting the space for Urban PCS, police said.

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