City, County Officials Discuss 8-Liner Sting

City, County Officials Discuss 8-Liner Sting

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A raid against 8-liners led to more than 800 motherboards seized and 68 warrants issued in Odessa mid-September. 26 businesses are facing misdemeanor gambling charges.

According to Odessa Police Chief, Timothy Burton, the major thrust of the investigation had to do with undercover personnel.

He said it was necessary to take action because these establishments rake in such large sums of illegal money and create the foundation for organized criminal activity.

"Sometimes that illegal activity can manifest into violent crime, illegal drug transactions," Burton said.

So the Odessa Police Department enlisted the help of federal and state investigators.

"Some of the same establishments we were looking at, they were looking at, some of the same people we're looking at they were looking at," he said.

But Sheriff Donaldson says the county had been facing the same issues and getting the same phone calls.

"Is it a problem for establishments to move out into the county, sure. But I'm sure that the sheriff's department is very able to deal with that issue," Burton said.

"I don't have as many investigators, I'm short-handed, and that's what it takes, is being able to send somebody in there and do the work," Donaldson said.

But that never stopped them from trying to go undercover.

"Somebody knows who we are. So they don't pay out cash when we're there," Donaldson said.

Although the county thinks the city is doing their job, they said they wished they were let in on the sting, especially since there were federal agencies involved. Sheriff Donaldson wanted them to possibly exchange resources and team up.

"But that didn't happen, so here we are," Donaldson said.

Chief Burton believes the county is working towards a solution although he's not in contact with the Sheriff about any plans of action the county might be making. He also said the city would assist in any way the Sheriff deemed appropriate. But Sheriff Donaldson feels he has to prioritize other crimes over misdemeanor gambling.

Authorities are still searching through the confiscated material and officials anticipate it will take another two to three weeks before anything else can happen.

In Tuesday's City Council meeting, officials tried to revise the gaming ordinance. They plan to clarify the language a bit and also to prevent store owners from locking their doors during the hours of operation so they can't screen who comes in and out.