Sheriff's deputies raided an illegal casino in Oakland Wednesday morning and arrested 20 people living there as part of an ongoing investigation into drugs and weapons trafficking, an Alameda County sheriff's sergeant said.
The conditions inside were crowded and unsafe, with raw sewage leaking and illegal wiring, so the 28 people who were living there will be unable to return, sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said. A 5-year-old child was taken into protective custody.
"The place was in complete disarray," Kelly said.
The sheriff's SWAT team served the warrant in the 6600 block of Bancroft Avenue at about 4 a.m., according to Kelly. Not only did they find guns and drugs, mainly methamphetamine, but evidence that the building had been used as an illegal gambling parlor.
Investigators remain there this afternoon searching the place, so Kelly could not immediately say how much drugs or how many guns were found.
The 20 people arrested are being held on a variety of offenses, from being under the influence of drugs to felony probation violations, Kelly said. They will be unable to return there because the building is being red-tagged as unsafe to enter.
Anyone living there will need to find other places to live, and the sheriff's office is working with the city of Oakland to provide assistance to anyone there who needs it.
Because of the unsafe conditions, Kelly said that the space needed to be shut down before potentially turning into a disaster like the fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse last month in East Oakland where 36 people were killed.
"Say we didn't do anything about this and it burned down and people died, we would be negligent in our duties if we didn't follow through on this case," Kelly said.
The warrant was served as part of an ongoing investigation by the sheriff's office, Kelly said. Oakland police were aware of the operation but it remains a sheriff's investigation.