9 arrested for operating alleged illegal horse racing track in Crosby
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Nine people were arrested Saturday, including six licensed peace officers, following an 11-month investigation into a suspected illegal horse racing track in Crosby, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
The nine defendants have been charged with racing without a license.
According to investigators, the group was operating an illegal horse racing and gambling business at Rancho El Herradero on Sralla Road. The six officers were allegedly providing security at the facility.
Multiple undercover surveillance operations took place during the lengthy investigation, according to the DA's office.
"Peace officers take an oath to uphold the law," Terese Buess, Chief of the HCDAO Public Integrity Division said. "To discover them actually working in their official capacity to provide security for organized criminal enterprises is extremely alarming and disappointing."
Law enforcement officers charged have been identified as Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office Deputies Secar Guadelupe Rangel and Joel Garcia, DPS State Trooper Richard Rene Rivera, Fort Bend County Pct. 2 Constable's Office Reserve Deputies David Green and Edward Scott, and Maverick County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy Carlos Garza.
Civilians charged have been identified as Reginaldo Mandujano, Diana Marie Salinas and Consuelo Rivera. Rivera is also charged with impersonating a peace officer.
Neighbors say the property's owner doesn't live in the area, but has someone stay here to watch the place. They say they noticed the owner was starting to build a race track a couple years ago.
"I didn't honestly realize what they were building until they finished, and then it just kind of surprised me," neighbor Nate Scott said.
Scott lives a couple houses down from the track and says the traffic and loud music on weekends was a little bit of a nuisance. But the money allegedly changing hands so close to his home came as a surprise.
"Never gambling, I would have thought," he said.
The cases have been assigned to the338th District Court where the defendants are expected to appear Monday.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers joined forces to investigate and close the operation. Other agencies involved in the in the investigation and arrests include the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Texas Racing Commission, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (Office of OIG) and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
Please stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for updates as we continue following this story.
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