Police search web shops
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 14, 2013
Police yesterday went out in force searching several web shops in the East Bay Street area, closing one for breach of the Business License Act, but stopped short of arresting anyone for illegal gaming activity or seizing any of the establishments’ assets.
Following an inspection of Bahama Dreams on Okra Hill police arrested four employees - three women and a man - and shut down the establishment for allegedly operating without any form of a license. Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Bethel said police found several other breaches though he did not detail what those were.
“We are going day-to-day, checking every business place and I don’t care what type of business it is, we are going after it, and this is just the first set,” Bethel told reporters.
“We are going to check all of the other businesses in the area and you are going to see results coming from this.”
Bahama Dreams was one of three web shops visited by police yesterday afternoon.
Police also searched Island Luck on East Bay Street and Paradise Games on Balls Alley, but Bethel said there was no sign of illegal activity and both businesses had up to date licenses.
The handful of patrons inside both businesses quickly exited once police entered the premises.
However, slot machine games were visible on several computer monitors left open.
“When we went in there we did not find anyone engaged in the sale of numbers,” Bethel said.
“The operation is there with the computers. As you are aware web shops are legal, all web shops are legal. It is what you do within the web shops.
“We have to be able to determine that there is a breach of that license by using your web shop for illegal means and that is why we are checking some of these places now.”
Asked whether the games on the monitors were a sign of gaming activity, Bethel responded, “We cannot go and arrest someone arbitrarily because they have a screen opened up with a spinning wheel saying ‘game’ on it. It takes a little more than that.”
He said police are investigating and compiling evidence of illegal numbers businesses.
“A lot of what we do is intelligence gathering because we must have information on the operation of these businesses, and that’s all I can say right now,” Bethel noted.
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade recently warned web shop gamblers to “obey the law” and stop gambling as police can turn up at “any time” to make arrests.
Police also shut down Double D's Restaurant located at the foot of the Paradise Island Bridge for allegedly operating in breach of its liquor license.
At least five men and one woman were arrested in the area for outstanding warrants of arrest, among other things.
As police moved onto Mackey Street, FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers was observed outside his web shop, off East Bay Street, though police only appeared to have exchanged words with him.
The East Bay Street area in the last few months has been plagued with several incidents of armed robbery, shootings and more recently the murder of an American visitor.
Bethel said police will continue the operation in the weeks to come, targeting all businesses and prolific offenders, in an effort to lower criminal activity in the area.
He said police will also conduct intensified patrols, road checks and community walkabouts, particularly on Shirley and East Bay Streets.