A multiagency force of state and federal investigators had a warrant to search Computer Crazy Internet Café, 1200 W. 11th St., following four months of investigation into alleged online gambling at the business in the West Gate Plaza shopping center.
Sgt. Alex Neicu of Tracy Police Department said the investigation began when the police department’s Special Investigations Unit was told by patrol officers of suspicious activity in the shopping center beginning in January.
Officers had received complaints from business owners in the shopping center about numerous narcotics violations, fights and drunken behavior associated with the Internet café.
Neicu said the investigation led to the business being identified as an illegal gambling operation posing as an Internet café.
The business, which opened Nov. 1, had customers put money on cards and play a “multitude of video gambling games” on the dozens of computers situated around the store.
If they won any of the games, they could cash out the card.
“As far as we could tell there was no legitimate, nongambling use of the business,” Neicu said.
The Internet café sold Internet time and phone cards, along with “promotional sweepstakes,” allowing customers to play gambling-themed games online to win cash prizes.
An additional search was conducted at the Antioch home of the business owner. Police would not release the name of the owners or the employee citing the ongoing investigation.
Neicu said officers seized about 50 computers at the business and another 50 at the Antioch home.
Officers also confiscated $65,000 from the business and Antioch home.
Documents detailing the gambling operations were also taken during the Tuesday search.
An employee of Computer Crazy was cited and released at the business during the raid.
The investigation had Tracy Police joined by California Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Employment Development District and the Department of Industrial Relations.
Neicu said Homeland Security was called in to trace the finances of the online gambling operation.
Neicu said the raid on the alleged Internet gambling site was the first in Tracy but follows a statewide trend.
He said similar businesses have been discovered in Manteca, Stockton, Lodi and Modesto.
“It’s a new trend throughout the state,” he said. “It’s important for us to be proactive about this.”
The different agencies’ officers were still looking through the business at 1 p.m. Tuesday as customers in the shopping center stopped by the front door of the business.
The investigation into the gambling operation is continuing, Neicu said, and investigators will forward the results to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office for possible charges that could involved illegal slot machines or devices and slot or card machines or mechanical devices at which money or other valuables are staked or hazarded.
Neicu said the business, as a gambling operation, had been shut down.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.