The Cape Fear region saw 18 businesses raided by a statewide sting on video gaming machines.
N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents seized hundreds of illegal machines, cocaine and more than $1 million in cash in the raid code-named “Cannonball.” No arrests were made, a release said
Yellow crime-scene tape stretched across the two entrances to EPCO 3-Way Food Mart at Dunn and Murphy roads in Eastover, the lone spot targeted in Cumberland County. Similar scenes played out from the mountains to the coast at 115 locations raided by ALE agents, the release said.
Lawmen from the sheriff’s offices in Cumberland, Robeson, Scotland and Moore counties, and the Sanford Police Department assisted ALE agents in the Cape Fear region. Five businesses were raided in Robeson County, one in Scotland, three in Sanford and nine in Moore County, six of which had addresses in Southern Pines.
“The raids today are a wake-up call to businesses that provide illegal video gaming,” Mark Senter said in the release. He leads the headquarters office in Raleigh.
ALE agents interacted with illegal gaming machines at all of the 115 locations that were a part of the operation. One location in Robeson County was raided solely by the Sheriff’s Office, the release said.
Most of the locations held permits with both the ABC Commission and N.C. Education Lottery, the release added. Complaints from residents and law enforcement officers triggered the selection of businesses to raid.
In Eastover at the EPCO, two illegal gaming machines were seized. Two lawmen wheeled the machines out on a dolly, in two trips, and loaded them into the back of a U-Haul truck.
Several people turned into the parking lot, asking what was happening and if everyone was OK. Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler said in a news release that he believes the county will be better off without the machines.
Butler has been one of North Carolina’s most ardent gambling opponents over the years.
“I strongly support and will endeavor to work jointly with ALE and other law enforcement agencies in this operation in the ongoing efforts to enforce the gambling laws of North Carolina,” Butler said. “I commend these agencies for their unwavering devotion in the face of an industry and individuals who continually without hesitation violate or attempt to find some type of loophole to evade these laws.”