Illegal gambling operation busted in Polk Co. strip mall

- Hundreds of illegal gambling devices are being seized. The media will have opportunities for b-roll and photos of the gambling house and the devices.

A tipster led investigators to an illegal casino operating in a Polk County strip mall, according to Sheriff Grady Judd. 

Judd said in a press conference Wednesday the gambling ring was being run in suites 139 and 141 in a strip mall on Ridge Center Drive in Davenport.

Judd said the co-owners are from Clermont and had been operating for three weeks. Judd said Lewis Hernandez was arrested and there was a warrant out for Francisco Munez.

He said a "truckload" of gambling devices had been seized from the two suites. Judd said the total made from three weeks of illegal gambling was unknown, but the money was being counted by investigators.

Judd said it appears the suspects spent a lot of money to set up the operation, probably in hopes of making even more. 

"Here's the message. Illegal gambling is not permitted in the state of Florida. And if you do, you're going to jail," Judd said. 

Judd said customers would come in, pay to rent a machine, and then if there were winnings, they would cash out. Judd said undercover agents visited the operation as customers to determine the methods. 

Judd said his office did not plan to charge any of the known customers of the operation, but said, "they're gonna make great witnesses for us."

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