Gretna Internet cafe raided for alleged illegal gaming - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Gretna Internet cafe raided for alleged illegal gaming activities

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Investigators showed off computers loaded with illegal gaming at the business. Investigators showed off computers loaded with illegal gaming at the business.

GRETNA, La. - Authorities raided an Internet cafe on the westbank Wednesday that they said was illegally offering gambling services.

The raid netted two arrests at Lucky Times Internet Café following an undercover investigation that involved Louisiana State Police.

"A patron would come into the location, go to the counter, pay a monetary amount to the cashier and credits would be added to a swipe card. The patron would then come to the terminal, use the swipe on the side of the computer," said Gretna Police Department Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiana.

The swipe of the card cleared the way for patrons to play black jack, slots, video poker and other games on the Internet on more than 100 computers inside the building.

"Under Louisiana state law, currently Internet gaming is illegal," Christiana said during an impromptu news conference inside the business.

He said around the holidays the company got bolder and put up a sign on the building advertising casino games. 

During the raid, cash and marijuana were also discovered in a safe.

"What we find is that one type of criminal activity such as illegal gambling can lead into so many other types of illegal activities such as narcotics or prostitution, or something along those lines, so we're going to investigate every avenue possible to make sure that we stop these types of illegal rings from happening," said Troop B spokeswoman Melissa Matey.

An owner and a manager, identified as Jason Tomas and Manuel Villagran, were arrested on site. Both are from the Detroit, Mich., area as is a third person and business principal who is being sought, identified as Marshall Isso.

Police said the business' license allowed it to rent computer time to patrons, and also provide copy, fax and printing services, and by pretending to do so, it avoided gaming license requirements and gaming taxes.

Christiana said the probe turned up no evidence that the business was operating in accordance with its license.

"In our undercover investigation, none of that has happened," he said.

He said subpoenas have been served on financial institutions that the westbank business had a relationship with, and that local investigators are working with Michigan authorities.

"We're looking at this case, depending upon what evidence that we gather in the follow-up, as possibly being a racketeering-style case," Christiana said.

"We're going to do everything we can to further that investigation with our law enforcement partners," said Matey.

Christiana said the business did not leave much to chance, including when it decided to set up shop next to a Fair Grounds off-track betting parlor.

"What they did, in our opinion, is feign the use of the business next door, which is an off-track betting location, to try to take their clientele by word of mouth and hand flyers and draw them into this particular location," he said.

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