May 17, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

Beebe police seize three illegal gambling machines from gas station Monday | News

4 min read

An alleged illegal gambling operation in a gas station was busted Monday morning by the Beebe Police Department.

Beebe police seized three gambling machines from VP Racing Fuels at 2015 W. DeWitt Henry Drive. The gas station was closed to the public beginning around 10:15 a.m. while a search warrant was being executed.

Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson said the police department had received “some complaints regarding that station” that led to investigations that “warranted the police being there this morning.” Robertson was in the parking lot of the gas station when officers started arriving on the scene but didn’t stay.

“We are going to continue to enforce any type of lawful actions throughout the city, whether it be drug and state law or city ordinances; we are going to continue to enforce them,” Robertson said.

The owner of the station, identified by police as Abdul Tawab, was called to the station and arrived around the same time. He was observed by The Daily Citizen giving a key to police. A woman, whom police said was a manager at the station, was filling out paperwork. She left with police and later returned. The owner left at 11:10 a.m. and then was called about returning to the gas station, according to the police.

The business also was cited by Beebe Code Enforcement Officer James Squires for being in violation of Beebe Ordinance 2010-4 that deals with sale of drug paraphernalia. The business was allegedly selling glass pipes that are used for smoking methamphetamines.

“If they were selling them, they should have” been cited, Robertson said. “It’s against the city ordinance. We went through that, what, less than six months ago, and we went to all the locations and gave them warnings and there have been tickets issued since then by the city. There have been tickets issued by the state, so we will continue to enforce the illegal activities that happen within our city; we’re going to enforce them..”

The Daily Citizen contacted Beebe City Clerk-Treasurer Carol Westergren to find out the name listed on the business license of VP Racing Fuels; however, she said the business was not listed as having a business license for this year.

The gambling bust followed Beebe police getting a phone call in the early part of December, according to Capt. Barron Dickson. “There was a lady who was mad. She had a friend – I think it might have been her husband – who spent his entire paycheck on gambling, and she said not only was he gambling, they were paying out cash, which is what caused the addiction and caused him to lose his entire check. So, we started an investigation then. We got enough evidence to obtain a search warrant.”

Dickson said the owner cooperated Monday and opened the safe so that it did not have to be seized. He said there was nothing in the safe “of a lot of importance,” though.

“After we finish our investigation, we’ll put together what we have found and deliver that to the prosecutor and she will be the one to decide if there are charges that need to be filed or not,” Dickson said, adding that it will likely be after the new year before the case is delivered to the 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “There’s a lot to go through and a lot to put together.”

The bust in Beebe follows 45 electronic gambling machines being seized from gas stations in White County in September along with “approximately $40,000 in illicit funds which were being used to illegally maintain a gambling establishment,” according to Detective Lt. Chancey Warden of the White County Sheriff’s Office.

The seizures took place Sept. 3 at three locations within the county “after a lengthy investigation” Warden wrote. “The sheriff’s office in collaboration with the Searcy Police Department executed search warrants at the Exxon gas station at 3097 Arkansas Highway 5 in El Paso, owned by Sohai Karanti; the Citgo, also known as Searcy Mart at 401 N. Maple St. owned by Wasim Shalzad; and the Exxon Station and Bait Shop at 2936 S. Main St. owned by Zeenat Azad.”

Warden said the search warrants were the result of a multi-jurisdictional investigation that started after the sheriff’s office received complaints from several people. The Stone County Sheriff’s Office in Mountain View and the Marshall Police Department reportedly executed warrants in their jurisdictions.

“We appreciate the tips, complaints and information from our local citizens that led to this investigation being successful,” Sheriff Phillip Miller said.

White County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Seiders said Monday afternoon that Detective Sgt. Joshua Biviano is still working through that investigation. “There was a lot of evidence seized during our main search warrant and that is still being worked through, so on our side the investigation is still ongoing and charges are pending.”

Dickson said Biviano also “was a great help” to the Beebe Police Department during its investigation.

“It’s something we have not dealt with in Beebe so he provided us a lot of knowledge and insight into the gambling issue,” Dickson said.

Dickson said although he cannot remember a time the department has dealt with illegal gambling machines, “it’s really not a wise thing to do in a town this size where everybody talks.”