Three suspects arrested on racketeering charges at three locations in Orange County
The Apopka Police Department (APD), working alongside the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) for over a year, raided a rapid refund tax office on Central Avenue in Apopka on Wednesday that the APD says was operating as a gambling house.
The APD and MBI arrested Hendry Miguel Morales Mendez, 35 of Orlando, and charged him with Racketeering, Keeping a Gambling House, and Operating an Illegal Lottery.
Also arrested during simultaneous raids at two other Orange County locations were Angie Lenny Bonilla Hernandez, 37 of Orlando, and Ivelisse Rosado, 40 of Philadelphia, PA.
According to a news release from the APD, Apopka police were notified of an alleged crime in December 2016 that occurred at Rapid Refund Tax Services at 734 South Central Avenue in Apopka. The victim alleged that he had been participating in an “underground” lottery. When the victim went to the business to collect his gambling winnings, he stated he was beaten and threatened with a firearm. The APD referred the information about illegal gambling to the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI).
According to its website, The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation is a multi-agency task force, empowered to conduct narcotics, vice, and organized crime investigations across jurisdictional boundaries throughout the Ninth Judicial Circuit — Orange and Osceola Counties. The MBI was conceived to fill the need for a cooperative effort to combat criminal activities which were organized, well-financed, and operated freely across jurisdictional lines of the existing law enforcement agencies. The MBI was created in December of 1978 as a specialized group of investigators assigned to concentrate on mid-level narcotics trafficking, organized crime, racketeering, and vice-related offenses such as prostitution, gambling, and illegal adult entertainment activity.
Throughout the investigation, probable cause was established that illegal gambling was taking place at 734 South Central in the form of an unlawful lottery scheme. The investigation also discovered the location in Apopka was part of a larger enterprise and linked to two other businesses in Orange County, located at 6430 West Colonial Drive and 725 North Pine Hills Road, where illegal gambling was also taking place.
On Wednesday, search warrants and arrest warrants were executed at all three locations. This is an ongoing investigation.