Police Shut Down Cyber Cafe, Seize Illegal Gaming Machines
Officers seized 25 illegal gaming machines along with records and evidence, they say, of an illegal gaming operation. The case is still under investigation.
Police are investigating an illegal gaming operation allegedly being conducted at the Cyber Palace Cafe in Peabody.
The Lowell Street business, described as an Internet cafe, was shut down Sunday morning after a police task force searched the premises and seized 25 illegal gaming machines.
The devices were taken to the computer crime lab at the Peabody Police Department where they will be analyzed as evidence. Police said this is actually the first known electronic search warrant executed at this type of establishment in Massachusetts.
No arrests were made at the time or charges filed and police say the investigation is still open.
Sunday's action came after a lengthy and extensive investigation to date by the Peabody Police Department in conjunction with the Essex County District Attorney's office, the Lynn Police Vice Squad and the cyber crime unit within NEMLEC (Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcment Council).
The cyber crime unit included officers from Belmont and Beverly police.
Police arrived at the Cyber Palace Cafe at 535 Lowell St. at approximately 11 a.m. on Sunday with a search warrant. They then seized 25 electronic gaming computers, among other items, and records and other evidence of an illegal gaming operation, according to police.
"A local investigation started almost immediately after the establishment opened for business. Shortly thereafter, other agencies were contacted for assistance due to the complexity of the business operations," says a press release from Peabody police. "Based on findings of the multi-agency investigation, it was determined that gaming violations were being committed in violation of Mass. General Laws."
The statement did not indicate when exactly the Internet cafe first opened.
The investigation was "extremely broad" and focused on the owners, operators of the business and individuals who provided the gaming machines.
Peabody Chief Robert Champagne actively participated in the investigation along with Deputy Chief Martin Cohan, who heads up the computer crime unit. Detective Robert Church spearheaded the investigation assisted by detectives, Stephanie Lane, Ralph Scopa and Eric Ricci.
Beverly officer David Costa and Belmont officer James Schwab also assisted in the case.
Police say any gaming charges are pending based on the final outcome ofthe investigation. The business remains closed at this time.