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State officials announce more arrests in continuing crackdown on Internet cafés

From an FDLE press release:

The Illegal Gaming Task Force served search warrants today in five Florida counties targeting internet cafés owned by Ivan Vega, 1873 Pine Bay Drive, Lake Mary, Fla., and Peter Miller, 120 Sand Castle Way, Neptune Beach, Fla.

These warrants represent a continuing crackdown on the operators of illegal gambling centers around Florida known as internet cafés.  Along with today's operation, Ivan Vega was also arrested on a warrant from an earlier investigation conducted by State Attorney Willie Meggs of the 2nd Judicial Circuit. Vega was charged with keeping a gambling house, manufacture, sale, possession of coin operated devices, lottery, and plays at games of chance.

“These warrants are a key step in investigating organizations claiming to be ‘internet cafés’ but actually conducting illegal gaming. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to collaborate with law enforcement on these cases,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Search warrants were executed in Duval, Columbia, Marion, Brevard, Lake and counties. During the execution of warrants, Gaming Task Force investigators seized computers, cash related to the illegal activity, banking records and employee rosters. 

“These warrants will likely lead to the arrests of key figures within these organizations for racketeering and money laundering,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.  “This is a warning to other so-called internet café operators. If you operate outside the law, you are a target.”

Members of the Illegal Gaming Task Force include FDLE Agents, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

“This Task Force is sending a message to internet café operators who operate outside of the law. We are going to continue to enforce the laws of the state and you will be held accountable,” said Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger.

“This is a statewide issue that demands a strong, unified law enforcement response. And that’s exactly what this Task Force is delivering,” said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson. “Businesses in Florida have been given ample warnings that internet cafés are illegal. The take-away from today’s actions is that we’re simply not going to put up with businesses that continue to defy the laws of this state.”

In addition to warrants served by the Illegal Gaming Task Force, local law enforcement agencies served additional warrants in their jurisdictions today, including Lake and Brevard County Sheriff’s Offices and Rockledge, Palm Bay and West Melbourne Police Departments and in Monroe County by State Attorney Catherine Vogel.  State Attorneys Brad King, Phil Archer and Willie Meggs are assisting in the investigations along with the Columbia and Marion County Sheriff’s Offices.  The Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrested five internet café site managers as part of the operation. 

“The Rockledge Police Department is grateful for the assistance provided by State Attorney Phil Archer, The Illegal Gaming Task Force, FDLE agents, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson, and Office of Statewide Prosecution,” said Rockledge Police Chief Joseph LaSata. “Without their valuable knowledge and assistance, we would not have been able to bring to fruition the illegal gaming operations in our city in such a timely, efficient manner. Our goal is to always maintain the safety of our residents and visitors to our city; today with the assistance of our law enforcement partners we did just that.”