MILFORD, Mass. — Two people are facing criminal charges after Milford police say they busted an illegal gambling ring centered around backyard volleyball tournaments.
Luis Loja-Caguana is slated to be arraigned Friday on charges including keeping a disorderly home, gaming or betting, and place for registering bets, according to the Milford Police Department. Zoila Castro is also charged with illegally selling liquor.
Milford detectives, along with the Milford Board of Health and Milford Building and Inspections officials, raided a home at 21 Franklin Street on Aug. 26 following an extensive investigation.
An on-site sweep of the property revealed that Loja-Caguana had paved over his entire backyard, transforming the space into two regulation-size volleyball courts, according to police.
Loja-Caguana is accused of using the space to illegally collect and place bets on the outcomes of volleyball games and tournaments that he hosted.
“The prize money would be in the range of thousands of dollars,” investigators said in a statement.
Milford Deputy Police Chief Robert Tusino told Boston 25 News a lot of cash was changing hands.
“How much money are we talking about here?” Boston 25′s Bob Ward asked Deputy Chief Tusino.
“So initially for us, close to 20 thousand, but through our surveillance and our operation we are estimating that on Friday Saturday and Sunday night, they were taking in somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand dollars,” Chief Tusino said. “I felt like I was in a casino.”
“Every time I sat here, I had dozens of people staring at me,” neighbor Daisy Collazo said.
She said sometimes, she could not even use her own backyard.
“What bothered me the most lately was all the cars. Somedays I couldn’t even park my car here. I had to Park all the way up the street because there was no parking in front of my house,” Collazo said.
Police said that Castro ran a full-size concession stand during the games, selling alcoholic beverages to customers without permits.
“That’s crazy though, to have a whole gambling operation going on over there it’s insane,” said neighbor Ralph Franklin.
When police launched their investigation, they didn’t have to go very far. The Milford Police Department is located only a block away.
Boston 25 News talked to one man who lives at 21 Franklin Street.
He said he had no idea what was going on at the large gatherings.
“I don’t know what police say, but you see that? There’s the police right there,” he said as he pointed to the police station.
“Obviously we had a long history of noise complaints and neighbor complaints, which we tried to address. But as far as the illegal gambling, illegal operation, that was all new to us over the past couple of months,” Deputy Chief Tusino said.
Milford Police say, in recent months, a Confidential Informant told them that illegal gambling was taking place at the home, and that’s what launched the investigation that resulted in last Saturday’s takedown of the alleged operation.
Milford Police add that more charges against more people are likely.
They add other law enforcement agencies are also investigating the case.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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