ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - An Orlando store off of Holden Avenue is back open after agents with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation said they seized gaming equipment at an operation run inside the grocery store.
Latinos Food and Grocery looks like a typical business on the outside, but inside, agents say it was a gambling house, using slot machines and conducting sports betting. Several customers, like Liz Brown, had no idea. "That’s really surprising to me I didn’t know anything was going on."
We talked to MBI director Ron Stucker via phone about the alleged gambling operation. He says an undercover agent went in and placed bets, "Anybody could play a slot machine, it was pretty obvious. But to do a higher level betting, had to get to know you. Bet on football games and place a bet and if you want, get paid off."
Agents arrested Juan Trinidad, Franklyn Trinidad-Rodriguez, and Victor Batista-Abreu. They are charged with racketeering, maintaining a place for gambling and bookmaking. Investigators say Charile Trinidad is still on the run.
We asked customers like Brown about the people who run the store. "It does surprise me though, especially them. Outgoing family, very nice, didn’t expect anything like that." We went into the store to get their side of the story, but no one wanted to comment.
Stucker says it’s important that gaming be regulated or else someone could take advantage of a person. "A slot machine can be rigged there. If you go to a regulated casino those machines are checked. Because there’s such danger for gambling for laundering money, for skimming money, for taking advantage of people that it’s regulated so therefore you have to comply with those laws."
Agents seized computer and gaming equipment from the store, hoping to find out how much money was bet on, how long it was taking place for and how many people participated. "It looks like there was a study amount of betting going on, but a dollar amount we haven’t been able to determine yet."