Thursday, June 14, 2012

What happened to Dade county's fight against the maquinitas?

While we're all well aware of the maquinita saga within the City of Miami, what happened to the ongoing war against the illegal gaming machines at the county level?  About a year ago the Miami Dade County Police department conducted an extensive undercover investigation where they placed undercover cops in various shops where these gaming machines were and actually had them play till they won and were subsequently paid their winnings in cash which ultimately led to the arrest of the owners of the establishments.  This was a big step forward in the fight against the "maquinitas" as this investigation was free and clear of any political motivations that were alleged to have caused the war between the various political factions within the City of Miami.  From the Miami Herald article which I can't seem to find online any more...
“The timing of our investigations is based upon the complexity of the case and our interaction with partner agencies, period,” said Miami-Dade police Cmdr. Nancy Perez, a spokeswoman. “Our investigations are not influenced by political considerations.”
What MDPD commander Nancy Perez was referring to was the timing of this case in reference to the then county mayoral elections following the ousting of Mayor Carlos Alvarez.  Shortly after these arrests were made, I actually went out and met with the undercover cops who made this case, at the time they were worried that if Julio Robaina was elected county mayor that there work against these gaming machines was going to be cut off as it was well known that Robaina was backed by the maquinita industry.  On the other hand, they were convinced that if Carlos Gimenez was elected they were going to keep going balls to the walls in their fight against the maquinita rackets, once again from the Miami Herald article...
One day after the Bird Road raid, Gimenez lambasted Robaina’s support of the gaming industry, calling for a police task force to combat the industry. “The citizens of this community have spoken against this illegal activity,” Gimenez said in a press release. “Today, I stand with the people of this community and with law enforcement in denouncing this delinquent activity.”
Gimenez went further on Michael Putney's show on channel 10 and said...
“If I were mayor, I’d definitely propose an ordinance to outlaw them throughout Miami-Dade County...Because frankly, Michael, I believe that there’s organized crime behind this.” 
That sounds fantastic, doesn't it?  We were all convinced that upon his election, Gimenez was going to come out punching against the maquinitas and their owners, so what's happened nearly a year later?  As far as I can tell, NOTHING!  One of my sources tells me that since Gimenez was elected, the unit that was making these cases was scaled back, citing budget issues, and it's members have been subsequently reassigned to other cases.  Does that make any sense?  If our new county mayor was really out to get the people behind these machines, then what the hell happened?  Remember, Mayor Gimenez went so far as to publicly proclaim that he believed that "there's organized crime behind this", so what gives?  Gimenez gets elected and all of a sudden the crusade against the machines and their owners goes quiet?

Furthurmore, the judge presiding over this particular case seemed to see through all the defense's bullshit arguments...
“We can go around and around all day long. In my opin­ion, what’s going on is not an amuse­ment game. It’s not an amuse­ment ma­ch­ine; it’s gambling,”
So what happened?  The cops did their work, made their case and the subsequent arrests, the judge hearing the case seemed on board, at this point it's all left to the state attorneys office.  We'll dig around and see what we can find out.

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