Norman police bust illegal gambling operation in strip mall, six arrests made so far

Local

NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The Norman Police Department busted an illegal gambling operation on July 15 when a larceny call led them to evidence, and eventually search warrants, where they found illegal gambling items and activities.

“They located numerous slot machines, gaming tables and money machines,” said Sarah Jensen, public information’s officer with the Norman Police Department.

It all started when a man called police and reported that his cell phone was stolen near 24th and Main streets. He asked a karaoke bar if he could charge his phone there. They let him, but when he went to get it back, they allegedly wouldn’t give it to him. When police got on the scene, they found evidence of gambling. That was only the beginning of the treasure trove they found inside. Norman police said the find was astounding. Jensen said even detectives were baffled by it.

“It’s really the first time a number of them have ever seen anything of this nature,” Jensen said.

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The illegal gambling suspects.

Thirty-one-year-old Zhuang Xing Zheng, 23-year-old Rijin Zheng, 21-year-old Silong Wang, 47-year-old Qiu Lin Zou, 24-year-old Cong Li and 21-year-old Zailin Jin have all been arrested in connection to illegal gambling in Norman. In Oklahoma, that crime is a felony. Gary Cahill has owned the Hobby Town store next door for 15 and a half years. He said he never had a clue any of that was going on.

“It was a surprise,” Cahill said.

According to Cahill, he rarely talked to the owners. However, when he did, he said they were nice people, never causing any trouble.

“About the only time we would ever see owners from the place is during the day if they had a liquor delivery,” he said. “Never complaints, they were always courteous, never loud.”

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The scene of the alleged illegal gambling operation.

It wasn’t hard to tell when the bars visitors stayed out too late either.

“There had been a few times I would get here in the morning before 8, do my morning work and there would be people leaving. Sometimes quite intoxicated,” Cahill said.

The karaoke bars windows were blacked out. The owners also ended up leasing the business on the other side of Cahill’s store as well.

“We were told it was going to be a PC gamers café,” Cahill said. “They were constantly going back and forth between both locations.”

Not long after, Cahill said he showed up to work with police everywhere. They were searching that exact building.

“They started unloading some electronic gaming machines and dealer tables, flat screen TVs and some other paraphernalia,” Cahill said. “That’s a first here. We’ve had some businesses open and close fairly quickly, but nothing quite like that.”

All the gambling equipment was operational and had money in them. The investigation is far from over. Norman police said they served searched warrants at several other areas around the metro and found more money tied to the illegal gambling. They also found drugs.

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