LAUREL HILL —Two Scotland County area stores were among 115 businesses raided as part of a statewide illegal gaming operation last week.
Operation Cannonball, conducted statewide resulted in the seizure of hundreds of illegal video gaming machines, cocaine and more than $1 million in cash, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.
Tow of the lcoal stores raised were Cruz N Mart on U.S. 74 in Laurel Hill and the Sun Do store on Cabinet Shop Road in Maxton.
There were a total of five businesses raided in Robeson County; three in Sanford; and nine in Moore County, six of which had addresses in Southern Pines. Scotland County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the raid.
The operation, led by agents with Alcohol Law Enforcement, was prompted by complaints from both residents and law enforcement officers near the businesses. The effort aimed to “stem the tide of illegal gaming activities” in North Carolina, according to the SBI statement.
“Other police agencies and sheriffs’ offices in North Carolina have also received numerous complaints on these types of illegal gambling and video gaming operations. The raids today are a wake-up call to businesses that provide illegal video gaming,” ALE Branch Head Mark Senter said in the statement.
The 115 businesses raided had been paying out cash winnings to customers. Most of the businesses held permits with both the ABC Commission and North Carolina Education Lottery, which will be notified of the violations. North Carolina ABC Chairman Jim Gardner said the violations could result in a fine and suspension of ABC permits, the statement said.
Arrests are anticipated as the investigation continues.
North Carolina lawmakers first banned electronic gambling in 2006, but gaming companies have tweaked machine software in an effort to circumvent the law. The state Supreme Court upheld a statute banning electronic gaming machines in December 2012.