December 17, 2008

Two charged after Valley Girls raid

Two charged after Valley Girls raid
Ana Ley

EDINBURG - Two people were charged after Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies busted a gambling operation near a flashy Donna strip club.

Ricardo Melendez Gomez, 47, and Blanca Hubert, 63, were charged with keeping a gambling place, promoting gambling and possessing a gambling device.

Gomez was being held at the Hidalgo County Jail on a $15,000 bond Wednesday. If he makes bond and is released, Border Patrol officials plan to deport the illegal immigrant back to Mexico.

Hubert was released Wednesday on a $9,000 bond.

A friend listed only as "Luis," whom Gomez called at booking, refused to comment Wednesday. A number for Hubert's emergency contact, listed as Veronica de la Cruz, was out of service.

The sheriff's office seized 11 slot machines and arrested Gomez and Hubert on suspicion of distributing cash winnings to customers who played the eight-liner gambling machines, which were located in a business office next to Valley Girls.

It is illegal in Texas to award cash to people who win at slot machines.

The small building housed a limousine business and beauty salon. Both buildings, owned by Harlingen-based Valley Entertainment Corp., are managed by Joey Holder.

Four customers were cited during the Tuesday raid for playing at the underground casino, a new tactic Sheriff Lupe Treviño hopes will discourage the operation's organizers from establishing another gambling ring.

"If we can impact the demand, we can have a detrimental impact on the supply," Treviño said Tuesday.

The raid was the culmination of a nearly two-week-long investigation led by Treviño and Hidalgo County District Attorney René Guerra. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission also inspected the strip club for alcohol license violations on Tuesday.

In October, two popular McAllen bars were raided on suspicion of condoning illegal slot machine gambling. Police seized 21 eight-liner machines from Fast Eddie's Billiards, bar Simon Sez and a McAllen office.

No comments:

Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?