'We are coming for you' says sheriff in wake of internet cafe bust

Illegal internet cafe shut down in Ormond Beach

By Loren Korn - Reporter

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - Deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office shut down the Hot Spot Internet Cafe after serving a search warrant Tuesday morning in Ormond Beach.

"This place walks like a duck, quacks like a duck (and) swims like a duck," Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. "It's a duck. It's gambling."

Deputies confiscated dozens of games and thousands of dollars in cash.

"They are parasites," Chitwood said. "If you look at who their customers are, their customers are mostly elderly folks on a fixed income."

One of those customers, Steven Hodge, who was inside the cafe during the search, said he was disappointed.

"It just gives you something to do," he said. "I'm disabled, I got medical problems and I don't work. It gives me something to do instead of sitting in the house all day."

Chitwood said during a two-month undercover investigation, the Sheriff's Office tracked $600,000 in just two months, and he believes the money was funneled to North Carolina.

"This is a business that's not regulated," Chitwood said. "They're not paying business tax. There's not a fire marshal -- no building code, nothing."

News 6 tried to talk to the owner's son, who the sheriff said manages the facility, but he declined to comment. The sheriff said the son is not facing charges at this time.

"Law enforcement is stuck between a rock and a hard place," Chitwood said. "You have (a) law on the books that's basically unenforceable. We can go out and make an arrest (and) pour hundreds of man-hours into this -- (but) to get what in return?" 

The sheriff said deputies will be serving cease and desist letters to other internet cafe operators in Volusia County.

"We are coming for you," Chitwood said. "The ball is already started. We're coming out there. We're going to make an arrest (and) seize your property under those Florida statutes."

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