Internet cafe crackdown in Florida as search warrants served across state

Warrants issued in 5 Florida counties

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Illegal Gaming Task force served search warrants in five Florida counties Thursday.

The warrants targeted Internet cafés owned by Ian Vega of Lake Mary and Peter Miller of Neptune Beach, and are part of a crackdown on illegal gambling center operators.

Vega was previously arrested and on charges relating to keeping a gambling house.

"These warrants are a key step in investigating organizations claiming to be ‘Internet cafés' but actually conducting illegal gaming. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to collaborate with law enforcement on these cases," Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a release.

The warrants were executed in Brevard, Columbia, Duval, Lake and Marion counties, where computers, banking records, employee rosters and money related to illegal activity were seized.

"These warrants will likely lead to the arrests of key figures within these organizations for racketeering and money laundering," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a release. "This is a warning to other so-called internet café operators. If you operate outside the law, you are a target."

In Lake County, warrants were enforced at the following establishments: Hill Top Sweepstakes, Lucky Joes Sweepstakes, Lucky Stars Sweepstakes, the Grand and Internet Café.

In Marion County, warrants were enforced at Senior and Senior Café.
In Brevard County, warrants were issued at Lucky's Internet Café — Rockledge, United American Apparels in Merritt Island, Melbourne, West Melbourne and Rockledge, Mag 7, Coconuts Internet Café, Lucky Shamrock Arcade and Pirates Too.

Two of the cafes shut down in Seminole County were under the name Ivan Vega, and the third is listed as "Warehouse."

The task force is comprised of FDLE Agents, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Local law enforcement agencies also served warrants in their jurisdictions, and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrested five Internet café site managers as part of the operation.

Last year, state investigators raided a group of internet cafes run by the group called "Allied Veterans of the World." Their attorney was recently sentenced to six years in prison for being the mastermind behind the illegal gambling operation.

The sate legislature passed a new law in 2013 that banned the sweepstakes played at the facilities.