Officials: 16 arrested in Arkansas gambling bust

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MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. — More than a dozen people are facing charges after a gambling bust in Mississippi County, Arkansas.

Prosecutors said agents seized dozens of illegal gaming machines at several locations in Blytheville and Osceola Wednesday evening. They also snagged more than $100,000 in cash.

The investigation started months ago after a number of complaints about the make-shift casinos. Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson, says his department, along with the Osceola Police Department and the Second Judicial Drug Task Force, teamed up to investigate.

“Once we were able to establish they were illegal, that they were actually gambling, they fit the statute of illegal gambling in the State of Arkansas, we began ramping it up,” Thompson said.

The investigation revealed the businesses were operating video slot machines and players who inserted cash would either win or lose money instead of being given “store credit.”

“The arrest warrants were obtained as part of the investigation, along with the search warrants, for felony charges for operating a gambling house,” Thompson said.

Thompson says his department has handled a number of crimes he ties to illegal gambling operations at some of the businesses in Blytheville.

“We have had reports of robberies, assaults. We’ve had disorderly conduct calls to these locations due to disputes over pay-out amounts over the course of the last few years,” Thompson said.

Thompson says Blytheville Police will continue to keep an eye out for illegal gambling activity, stressing that in Arkansas, it’s allowed only at casinos.

“Until those rules change, you know, the business owners need to be aware and be responsible of what they can sell, and what they can’t sell, and what they can do in those businesses, and what they can’t do in those businesses,” Thompson said.

The full list of those arrested is below:

Operation Machinehead Arrestees

1. Gurmeet Singh – 06/17/1961 – Male – $50,000 bond

2. Nagi Saleh – 10/3/1969 – Male – $50,000 bond

3. Waqar Salim – 4/6/1960 – Male – $50,000 bond

4. Mohammad Aldebashi – 6/15/1992 – Male – $50,000 bond

5. Brittany Brown – 3/19/1989 – Female – $50,000 bond

6. Marissa Tribble – 5/6/2001 – Female – $50,000 bond

7. Kathleen Stanton – 10/3/1955 – Female – Released OR

8. Stephanie Merritt – 12/16/1975 – Female – Released OR

9. Hamdi Ali – 6/19/1991 – Male – $50,000 bond

10. Quabeel Humadi – 5/11/1990 – Male – $50,000 bond

11. Nagib Alaboi – 1/13/1971 – Male – $50,000 bond

12. Gamel Tareb – 10/30/1966 – Male – $50,000 bond

13. Adel Saleh – 9/18/1963 – Male – $50,000 bond

14. Manuel Rameriz – 8/11/1981 – Male – Released OR

15. Margret Cole – 3/8/1979 – Female – Set to appear in Blytheville District Court on March 8, 2021

16. Brandon McKinney – 8/15/1993 – Male – Set to appear in Blytheville District Court on March 8, 2021

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