STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Investigators in San Joaquin County put an end to an illegal gambling operation that set up shop in the back of a Stockton pet store.
The monthslong investigation began after multiple people called in complaints of suspicious activity.
Eventually, a search warrant was issued and five gambling machines were discovered inside the business.
And for the owner, 53-year-old Philip Mosqueda, it was a gamble gone wrong. Officials say he was also arrested.
“It’s kind of like having a casino without having a casino license,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sandra Mendez.
Deputies say past the cages and furry faces at Royalty Pet Store, there was an illegal gambling operation that had possibly been in operation for years.
“It’s severely detrimental to the entire community,” Mendez told FOX40. “It brings in drugs. It brings in prostitution. There’s incidents of child trafficking.”
After multiple callers reported suspicious activity at the business, deputies began the investigation.
Their hard work paid off Thursday when they hit the jackpot.
Investigators believe they arrested the alleged mastermind of the scheme who now faces charges of maintaining a gambling premises, possessing slot machines and public nuisance.
Deputies say they’ve already busted a half dozen other illegal gambling operations behind legitimate businesses in the same area in just the past two months.
And they’re hoping to send a message to those thinking about placing a similar bet.
“We’re not going to tolerate it, you know. It leads to so many other problems in the community and we don’t want it in our county,” Mendez said.
Deputies say the owner denied knowledge of the operation throughout the investigation and that his arrest was made based on the evidence collected.