ELSA, TEXAS (ValleyCentral) — Homeland Security Investigations raided Elsa City Hall on Thursday morning as part of a federal money laundering investigation.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrived at Elsa City Hall before 9 a.m. Thursday armed with a search warrant.
Homeland Security Investigations also raided two game rooms, Sizzling Sevens and The Lucky Hive, located on State Highway 107 in Elsa.
“The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office is assisting our federal partners with a law enforcement operation at the Elsa City Hall,” said Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra.
The city of Elsa is cooperating with Homeland Security Investigations and will provide agents with anything they request, said City Attorney Gus Acevedo.
Edcouch and Elsa both allow game rooms to operate within city limits.
Game rooms allow patrons to play slot machines. Winners typically receive silver pellets, which they sell to nearby boutiques.
The boutiques pay cash.
Most types of gambling, however, remain illegal in Texas. The Sheriff’s Office raided Sizzling Sevens in September and charged employees with engaging in organized criminal activity. Days later, sheriff’s deputies raided Tejano Treasures, a game room in Edcouch.
Two weeks after the raid at Tejano Treasures, the FBI showed up at Edcouch City Hall with a search warrant for all records “related to gaming permits.”
Concerned, the city of Elsa attempted to contact federal prosecutors. Elsa wanted prosecutors to know the city would provide them with anything the government wanted — no search warrant required.
Nevertheless, agents with Homeland Security Investigations showed up Thursday morning.
“We had been anticipating,” said Acevedo, the Elsa city attorney. “So we were already gathering materials we figured they might want.”