Three men from Newark, New Jersey have been arrested in connection to an illegal gambling and alcohol sales ring. The men were taken into custody over the weekend and are accused of hosting a club area where players were able to drink as well as play gambling machines.
Details of the Crime
Victor Pereira, Jose DaSilva, and Byron Barraza were the three men arrested, with Pereira and DaSalvia appearing to be the ring leaders. The two men have been charged with running an unlawful liquor establishment as well as the illegal sale of alcohol, possession of gambling devises and alcohol. Barraza is facing a lesser aiding and abetting charge.
On Saturday evening, detectives saw a gate opened by Barraza which led to a club for players. Barazza was holding the door open for those who were coming and going. Detectives went inside the establishment where around 50 individuals were drinking and playing gambling games. Machines were set up and being played along with card games.
Pereira was seen behind a bar serving up drinks. Players could purchase beer, wine, and liquor. DaSilva was called the manager on-site and was unable to provide paperwork to show the facility had a license to operate, including to serve alcohol.
Police shut down the operation and took over $6,800 in money from alcohol sales. They also took over 403 bottles of alcohol from the premises. Cash from the gambling machines was also removed.
Busy in Newark
The bust last weekend was the first time police have broken up gambling and alcohol operations in Newark. Last month, police connected to a vice task force raided a warehouse party. There were around 200 people at the party, with everyone eating and drinking and having a good time. While there is nothing wrong with having a party, illegal gambling was also taking place.
On top of that, at the time, Governor Phil Murphy had instituted a 10-person limit on indoor gatherings. So, this was away over the limit in place due to COVID-19. In the warehouse, two women were selling alcohol in a bar area that had been setup on site. The women were not able to provide a liquor license.
It is unclear as to if the illegal activity is taking place due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in legal businesses or if it is just random actions of those involved. Casinos are still open, so players can go and play games. However, dining and drinking indoors is still cut off in the late-night hours.
So, are these popups happening due to that restriction? It is unclear at this time. Police remain vigilant and will put a stop to any illegal gambling and alcohol sales as quickly as possible. It can be difficult to spot these activities as they are not happening in plain sight. It takes tips as well as detective work to locate these facilities.
Police are hoping that with the current arrests making the news that others might be less likely to engage in such illegal behavior.