Officials identify 13 of 31 arrested in Hockley Co. game room raids
LEVELLAND, Texas (KCBD) - Thirty-one people were arrested during a simultaneous raid on seven game rooms across Hockley County on Wednesday. Thirteen of those arrested have been identified by the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office.
- Chen Mingzhou, 49: Gambling Promotion, Possession Gambling Device/Equipment
- Joseph Olivas, 35: Possess Controlled Substance PG 1, 1<4 grams
- Tam Thanh Nguyen, 57: Money Laundering $2500>30k, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment, Gambling Promotion
- Josephine Pesina, 52: Gambling Promotion, Keeping Gambling Place, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Mikka Toscano, 30: Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Qi Bin Xiao, 46: Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Lin Jin Xing, 25: Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Steven Altman, 60: Parole Violation, Man/Del Controlled Substance PG 1, 4<200 grams
- Esther Carrasco, 48: Money Laundering $2500<30k, Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Jinhua Lu, 51: Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Yang Chi, 24: Money Laundering $2500<30k, Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Jingfeng Xiao, 43: Money Laundering $2500<30k, Gambling Promotion, Possess Gambling Device/Equipment
- Kavan Cherry, 55: Man/Del Control Substance PG 1, 4<200 grams
Additional offenses remain under investigation, and additional charges may be possible.
The Hockley County Sheriff’s Office and Levelland Police Department were assisted by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI.
The local, state, and federal officials released details on the “multi-stage,” year-long takedown operation.
“We are here to announce the results of a large-scale drug trafficking investigation that commenced this morning,” said FBI Dallas Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge James Dwyer.
Of the 29 arrests, five people were already in custody. The charges range from gambling promotion, possession of a controlled substance, possible organized crime, and financial crimes, with additional criminal charges expected.
Eighteen people were arrested during the morning operation, with five of those already in custody. Eleven more were arrested as of 4:30 p.m.
“There may be a couple that are still out. There are still a couple of targets we did not locate at some of the locations; there are additional warrants that we’ve put out,” said Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres.
The arrests were made in Levelland, Opdyke West, Anton, Morton and Brownfield.
“We are seeking indictments and further investigation to get these places closed,” Sheriff Scifres said.
“I don’t want to seem like I’m too overly excited, but I’m really excited for our community because this is a great day. We took a lot of people into custody and I know that we have had some of our citizens throughout Levelland and Hockley county that wonder why we have taken so long to do something with our game rooms or some of the other different types of trafficking that’s been happening in our city and in Hockley County as a whole. These investigations take time. And this is again, this is an example of how long it normally takes to put a good case together,” said Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia.
“And now it’s going to be up to our AUSA. That’s going to be doing all the federal type prosecution, as well as our local district and county attorneys that are going to be doing their part to make sure that we get convictions on all these cases. And so again, these things take a lot of time to get this stuff done, but we do want our community members to know that we do hear you. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to get these things accomplished,” Chief Garcia said.
Garcia said that many criminal activities happening in Hockley County revolve around those game rooms: “We’ve had several different things that we’ve investigated from prostitution to narcotics to dealing in stolen property, those kinds of things like that.”
“This is still an ongoing investigation, and we’re going to continue to work together to advance the objective of all of us, and that’s the safety of our citizens,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Johnny Bures.
There are also federal indictments pending in this operation.
FBI Dallas Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge James Dwyer said 18 of the arrests that happened in Levelland, Morton and Brownfield were federal arrests. Their charges range from distribution of methamphetamines, unlawful possession of weapons and conspiracy, to name a few. Of those 18, five were already in custody for other charges.
“While much of the community slept this morning, the FBI and our law enforcement partners executed 13 arrests related to our operation, largely in Levelland, Morton, and Brownfield. These actions were all in support of federal grand jury indictments issued in November. A total of 18 defendants were charged with an array of federal crimes, including distribution of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of weapons, and conspiracy. Most of the federal subjects also have pending state charges. I’ll note that the subjects I mentioned here are in addition to the game room subjects that the sheriff mentioned earlier,” Special Agent Dwyer said.
”The goal of this operation is to make a significant impact on drug-related crime in West Texas. The FBI maintains dedicated resources and strong partnerships to help maintain the ongoing efforts to reduce violent crime. These types of crimes unsettle our communities and undermine our citizens’ efforts to build safety and security in their neighborhoods,” Dwyer said.
“Through our law enforcement partnerships and task forces, we are sending a loud and clear message to violent criminals, that we will deploy our collective strength to ensure the safety and security of our neighborhoods and our communities. Today’s operation was a success. It spanned multiple locations, and multiple subjects on a range of charges, and resulting in removing criminal elements from our streets. Many of those charged today are facing significant federal sentences.”
“We have active investigations in every corner of our territory, and we will continue to pursue justice in all of those investigations.”
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