The operation was a joint effort by the Walker County District Attorney’s Office and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s office investigators, with help from inmates from the Walker County Jail, spent several hours Monday afternoon removing the machines from locations in Sumiton, Nauvoo and Eldridge.
“These raids will hopefully send a message that gambling in Walker County is illegal,” District Attorney Bill Adair said. “It is illegal to possess or to play these types of machines in our county. Today’s three search warrants are the result of a long investigation, and we will continue to investigate this type of activity in Walker County.”
While no charges were filed against any individuals, Adair said police seized 55 gambling machines and several thousand dollars between the three locations.
“We are going to hit these folks in the pocketbook,” he said.
Adair said his office has already filed for civil forfeiture of items seized in the raids, and he expects to file for forfeiture of the property where the gambling halls were located.
“If we start taking the money, property and vehicles being used in this illegal activity, I think it will get people’s attention that this kind of stuff isn’t going keep going on here,” he said.
Search warrants were executed simultaneously around 2 p.m. Monday at suspected illegal gambling sites in Sumiton and Eldridge. Members of the Sumiton Police Department assisted with the raid on Kingdom Hall Lane where 15 machines were seized. Sheriff’s office deputies found 24 machines at the Eldridge location on Highway 78.
The third search warrant was executed after 3 p.m. at a location on Prospect Road near Nauvoo. Police seized 16 machines and a pickup truck during the third raid.
Adair said the property owners will have 30 days to prove the items are not subject to forfeiture. Once that time has elapsed, he expects the gambling machines to be destroyed.