A man accused of running a gambling racket remains behind bars while police are being asked to clarify charges against him. Acting on a tip, Miami-Dade undercover investigators seized more than $4,000 in illegal gambling machines at a South Florida mini-market, Wednesday afternoon and arrested five people.
By Thursday, all had bonded out of jail except one. During his appearance before a judge, 62-year-old Juan Martinez could hardly believe the bond he was being held under based on the 27 counts of being an agent of a gambling house Miami Police had charged him with.
“Right now you have what’s called the standard bond, which totals $418,500. Do you understand?” the judge informed him, who needed to be translated to Spanish so Martinez might understand.
“Wow!” was his only response.
The judge could not contain a laugh before she continued, “All right, Mr. Martinez, give me a second. State: with regards to being an agent of a gambling house, wouldn’t that be one count?”
Because of that question, the judge reset the hearing for tomorrow so an arresting officer might come in and explain these counts.
Investigators raided the OK Minimarket Wednesday looking for illegal gambling machines, nicknamed “maquinitas,” which they located in a room at the back of the establishment off Southwest 107th Avenue and 30th Street in Southwest Miami-Dade. “When the detectives were executing the search warrant, there were several people gambling at the time the officers entered the room,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
Etched on the concrete outside the back door leading to the room where the illegal machines were located is “La Cueva de Satan,” or “Satan’s Cave” in Spanish.
Among those arrested on Wednesday was Jesus Abreu, the owner of the OK Minimarket and his wife Odalys. Also taken into custody was 68-year-old Angel Padron and Martinez. All of them are facing gambling-related charges. Thirty-eight-year old Kenia Hernandez was charged with obstruction of justice.
Seizure of the maquinitas remains an ongoing issue in South Florida. Before the South Florida legislature outlawed the machines, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado favored having the owners pay a licensing fee, a measure lawmakers made moot.
Abreu made news a few years ago when he contributed to Regalado’s mayoral campaign. Abreu has been arrested twice before on gambling charges.
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