Crime - Sacto 911

Illegal gambling devices, marijuana plants seized from industrial warehouse

8100 block of Junipero Street
8100 block of Junipero Street Maps

The California Department of Justice seized 66 illegal gambling devices and 151 marijuana plants at an industrial warehouse in the Florin area on Thursday, according to Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the department.

Agents served a search warrant at a warehouse on the 8100 block of Junipero Street around 7 a.m., Gregory said. She added that no business was associated with the location and that no arrests were made Thursday morning.

The investigation began in February, when the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department reached out to the DOJ’s Bureau of Gambling Control regarding possible illegal gambling activity at the south Sacramento location, Gregory said.

Dennis Tatar, a mechanic who works at an auto shop across the street from the warehouse, said he would often see people going in and out of the building at all times of the day.

The warehouse, which is surrounded by a covered fence and was sometimes guarded by a man at the entrance, was most popular in the evenings, Tatar said. Some nights, he said, anywhere from 50 to 60 cars could be parked in front of the building.

“We just realized that you can’t leave anything outside,” he said.

“The average experience that we would have was people asking, ‘Hey, where is the casino at?’ ” Tatar added.

Property records show the warehouse belongs to a Sacramento couple. Elaine Lim, 83, said she and her husband have owned the property since the 1950s and previously used it for their box company. They began leasing out the warehouse, and two others near it, roughly 15 years ago after her husband was too old to operate their business, she said.

Lim said they most recently leased part of the warehouse starting in October 2015 to a man who said he ran a computer parts business. She said she was unable to check the state of the warehouse, given her limited mobility. She said she was unaware that a seizure took place Thursday.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento Police Department assisted in the operation, Gregory said. She said that the DOJ’s investigation into the warehouse is ongoing.

Illegal gambling sites like the one found in the Florin area are a rare occurrence in Sacramento, according to Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, a Sacramento police spokesman.

In 2013, the Sacramento Police Department, with the help of the DOJ, served search warrants at two illegal gambling cafes in North Sacramento, seizing 35 computerized slot machines and thousands of dollars between the two sites.

The two departments also shut down an illegal gambling business in south Sacramento off Florin Road in 2012, taking more than 30 computers and almost $17,000 in cash, according to a Sacramento Police Department press release.

“It’s one of those things that we don’t see too often, but when they get to this size, then we obviously investigate,” Heinlein said.

Gambling establishments and tribal casinos in California are regulated through the state’s Gambling Control Commission, which determines which businesses are fit for gambling licenses, establishes minimum requirements and conducts criminal background checks and audits, according to the commission website.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets