gambling raid

A Waco SWAT member exits the business at 901 N. 25th St. after a raid on a suspected eight-liner gambling operation Monday afternoon. One employee was detained during the search.

Authorities executed a search warrant Monday at what they said is an eight-liner gambling operation masquerading as a North Waco grocery, gift and tobacco shop, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Waco SWAT officers and detectives raided Rio Grande Resale Grocery, Tobacco & Gifts, 901 N. 25th St., at about 3:30 p.m., after complaints of illegal activity around the business. Swanton said detectives suspected the business of operating eight-liner video slot machines in an illegal gambling operation.

"When you have eight-liners in illegal gambling operations like this, a lot of crime goes with that," Swanton said. "We've had aggravated robberies, assaults, drug dealings, and it's really run the gamut."

As officers executed the search warrant, one employee was detained during the search. Police arrested Shanabilh Yazun, 36, on two misdemeanor counts of keeping a gambling place and Abedlfattah Al-Qab, 25, was also arrest on an unrelated warrant out of Harris County.

"It is a Class B misdemeanor to own, operate and run a gambling operation like this," Swanton said. "The reason we are out here is because we are here to enforce the penal code and we are tired of the crime that these places breed.

"We are going to try to start knocking this back a little bit."

Swanton said detectives are conducting ongoing investigations connected to illegal gambling operations throughout the city. He said businesses often try to mask the eight-liner systems by selling other merchandise, but authorities are well-aware of the problems gambling operations can cause.

"This is our first (search) and there are possibly many more to come, depending on how many people want to keep running illegal gambling operations," Swanton said. "We are in a neighborhood and the riff-raff that these places bring and crime that breeds is now bleeding over into our citizens' lives."

The Waco City Council in 2016 discussed ways to crack down on eight-liner operations, after Councilman Dillon Meek raised concerns about the operations. Police officials at the time said loopholes in state law made it difficult to prosecute businesses with eight-liners. 

Waco fire marshals Monday also conducted a building search for building code violations, Waco Fire Marshal Kevin Vranich said. The business was cited with four violations after the raid.

Bond amounts for Yazun and Qab were not available late Monday night.

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Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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