At least four Rockdale County locations were raided today as part of a larger coordinated sweep led by the Clayton County Sheriff's Office of illegal gambling machines, with assistance from many agencies including the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and Conyers Police Department.
According to CCSO Public Information Officer Alicia Parkes, the two-county sweep is the culmination of three months of investigation that started from community complaints of illegal gambling.
At least 150 law enforcement members from many agencies participated in today's sweep, including the CCSO, Clayton County Fire Department, FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ATF, US Marshalls, RCSO and CPD.
Around 9:15 a.m. this morning, law enforcement hit 12 different locations - eight in Clayton County and four in Rockdale County.
"The investigators implemented a raid simultaneously at all locations," said Parkes.
Fifteen people were arrested and no one was injured in the raids, said Parkes. Twelve of those arrests were of business owners and all were transported to the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.
In Rockdale County, three of the raided locations were warehouses on Olympic Court and Lake Rockaway Road.
One location was a private residence owned by Larry Lee Simmons, the manufacturer of the machines in question and owner of The Cedar Room in Ellenwood. The residence, on Old Camp Trail, was listed as the corporate headquarters of the manufacturing company.
Gambling machines, which are present legally at many gas stations and bars, become illegal when they give out cash rewards, said Rockdale County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sgt. Jodi Shupe.
It is also illegal to possess blackjack, poker, and Keno machines, said Parkes.
"As business owners, there are rules and regulations you have to abide by to be businesses owners," she said. "It’s known what they can and cannot do. It’s not illegal to use the slot machines or have them; it just becomes illegal when they start paying out in cash."
Investigators seized approximately 100 gambling machines and $175,000 in cash in today's raid.
Some of the charges faced by the arrested suspects include commercial gambling, possession and manufacturing of gambling equipment, keeping a place of gambling, and violations of the RICO statute. Federal charges are also pending.
More arrests are expected.