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Police find illegal gambling operation in east-side home

Police said it started as a "code enforcement deal," but when they got to the house, they uncovered the illegal operation.

SAN ANTONIO — An illegal gambling operation was discovered Wednesday morning in a southeast side home that was owned by Bexar County until last week.

San Antonio Police said they went to the home in the 4700 block of East Southcross to provide backup to city code compliance personnel.

The inspectors had an administrative search warrant to enter the home to look for dangerous conditions that were alleged to be serious violations of the city's health and safety code.

The warrant detailed how the property had been under scrutiny for some time and that it was headed for a hearing with the Buildings Standards Board.

Pictures of current conditions were needed as evidence, the warrant stated.

A police spokesman said when the team entered the building, they found an illegal 8-liner operation, with rooms full of gambling machines, 24 in all.

Police spokesman Washington Moscoso said "They stopped what they were doing and called a follow up unit and they saw what they had and they had enough to secure a search warrant signed by a judge."

Beyond the gambling machines, the officers found a host of other issues, Moscoso said.

"They found two stolen vehicles and other illegal contraband on the location," Moscoso said, indicating an unknown quantity of narcotics were found.

It's unclear if anyone lived at the home, but the house was full of people when officers arrived.

"All I know is there were 13 people when the officers arrived and of those some are going to be arrested and some are going to be let go," Moscoso said, indicating several of the people were found to have outstanding arrest warrants.

Search warrants were posted on the property indicating the owner of the house is Bexar County.

County spokesperson Monica Ramos provided background on the parcel, saying it has been through the tax foreclosure process.

Ramos said the property was put up for public auction back in May of 2021, but nobody bid on it, so it went in trust to Bexar County.

How the house came to harbor an illegal gambling operation while in trust to the county is a question that remains unanswered.

Ramos said the house was sold to a new owner just last Tuesday.  The selling price, Ramos said, was $136,000. 

Records on the Bexar Appraisal District website indicate the 1.3 acre parcel is listed with an appraised value of $251,620.

Building improvements listed include a main house built in 1957 that is 3,221 square feet as well as a number of outbuildings.

Ramos said they are working closely with the city's code office and looking into the matter.

The parcel is in Precinct 4.  A spokesman for County Commissioner Tommy Calvert's office said they will be looking into the issue as well.

There is no word yet on how many people were arrested or what charges they are facing.

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