Police allege this structure at the 1000 block of Hoover Avenue Southwest in Decatur was the site of illegal gambling Monday.

Madison man arrested in raid on alleged gambling house

DECATUR – A Madison man was arrested earlier this week on gambling and drug charges after police say he was overseeing a suspected illegal gambling establishment in Decatur.

Maher Algassari Anwaraddin of Madison, 31, and six other people were arrested Monday following the execution of a search warrant.

Police said they received numerous citizen complaints of illegal gambling and drug activity taking place at a building in the 1000 block of Hoover Avenue Southwest in the unincorporated Moulton Heights area of Decatur.

Police said Anwaraddin oversaw the makeshift gambling house at the time of the search. He was charged with trafficking illegal drugs, unlawful use of electric bells in gaming devices, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, illegal possession of prescription drugs and promoting gambling, according to police.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said prosecution of those who promote gambling is appropriate.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Anderson said. “I’m absolutely not in favor of legalizing gambling.”

Anderson said he is, however, in favor of harsher penalties for illegal gambling. Promoting gambling is a Class A misdemeanor. Gambling is a Class C misdemeanor.

“These places tend to prey a lot on people who are poor,” he said. “There’s no regulation involved, so people who are looking to go in to make money — they have no idea how the machines are set up or what their odds are of winning.

“Basically, every dime that these illegal gambling houses make is taking food out of the mouths of children, in my book.”
The perimeter of the Hoover Avenue property was equipped with a complex surveillance system that routed video to monitors inside the residence, according to an affidavit filed by police in Morgan County District Court on Tuesday.

Inside, Vice/Narcotics Unit investigators said they discovered “approximately 50 illegal gambling devices, an extensive camera and alert system, multiple firearms, a trafficking quantity of opiate pills, and a large quantity of khat, a narcotic stimulant.”

Khat is an evergreen shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Drug Enforcement Administration said the plant’s effects are similar to cocaine and meth, and that it is typically chewed like tobacco. Two of the chemicals in khat, cathine and cathinone, are Schedule IV and Schedule I drugs, respectively, under the Controlled Substances Act.

Police said they seized the gambling devices and that the fire marshal had electricity shut off to the building due to safety concerns.

Anwaraddin was booked into Morgan County Jail on Monday and released on a $9,100 bond a few hours later, according to jail records.

Police said six others were charged with simple gambling and transported to the Morgan County Jail. All have since been released on $300 bonds, according to jail records:

• Malik Tyrese Lyons, 23

• Damont Jones, 27

• Timothy Ikner, 35

• Jose Miguel Garcia, 37

• Jean Caroline Smith, 74

• Pedro Andres Franc, 42

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