What began as complaints of illegal activity turned into a yearlong investigation of casinos in Robeson County, N.C. And on Monday officials announced they have not only found unlawful gambling, but also marijuana farms and an illegal police force, reports the Charlotte Observer. The multi-agency investigation resulted in more than 26 arrests at three casinos operated in warehouses in Maxton, Pembroke and Red Springs, according to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations. The casinos were operated by members of the Tuscarora Indian Nation Sovereignty Territory. Authorities said the group claims legal sovereignty and had made threats in the past against local police. “This group openly expressed beliefs that neither the laws of North Carolina nor the United States applied to them, putting law-abiding citizens in danger,” Terrance Merriweather, head of North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, said.
The casinos were always open and had their own security force. They offered a variety of games including one-arm bandit and pot-o-gold. According to the release, the casinos were located in “blacked-out buildings with no clocks.” During the raid police confiscated vehicles, drugs, money, weapons and more than 200 gambling machines. Kendall Locklear, the leader of the Tuscarora Nation, was among those arrested. “Most of the offenders arrested today were considered to be armed and dangerous and many have criminal records,” Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said. The county is in south-central North Carolina, 125 miles east of Charlotte.