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More than $200K confiscated during surprise raid at North Texas poker lounge

Investigators accuse the poker club owner of illegal fees paid to employees at Watauga Social Lounge.

WATAUGA, Texas — Cellphone video showed some of the tense moments as Tarrant County investigators conducted a surprise raid at a poker lounge. 

It happened on Oct. 9, 2022. Now, the owner of Watauga Social Lounge is named in court documents and faces illegal gambling charges after an undercover investigation. 

The lounge is in the Watauga Regency Square shopping center.

The raid caught barber Jamie Marquez by surprise. He works at the Texas Barber Cartel. Marquez started cutting hair at the location about a year ago. 

He has been working hard to build up his clientele so making them feel at home in the barbershop is important. Jamie even works on Sundays to accommodate some of his customers' schedules. 

The last thing he needed is to try to explain the heavy police presence outside their business. 

"They had maybe seven police cars and DEA," said Marquez. "They came out with masks and everything. They had people come out in handcuffs."

Investigators from the Tarrant County Sheriff's Game Room Regulation Unit conducted the undercover sting with help from the Mid-Cities Drug Task Force. The search warrant also included assistance from officers with the Watauga Police Department. 

Court documents say during multiple visits employees charged undercover officers, who posed as poker players, illegal fees.

The owner of the Watauga Social Lounge faces charges of organized criminal activity, keeping a gambling place and gambling promotion. 

In all, investigators arrested 10 people and wrote 49 citations during the raid. The multiple police cars seen at the shopping center got people's attention, including Marquez and his customers.

Marquez said, "It was pretty, pretty intense. It was my first I've seen that in real life."

The 35 items confiscated during the raid included boxes of poker chips and playing cards, membership cards sold to players and more than $200,000 cash. 

It's something Marquez didn't expect his customers to see while visiting his Texas Barber Cartel.

Marquez said, "We try to make it feel like a family here."

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