Norman police arrested six men in connection with an illegal gambling operation, three of whom have been charged with felonies this week.
On Thursday, July 15, officers responded to the XingXing Karaoke Bar, formerly called Absolute Karaoke Bar on West Main Street after someone said they lost their phone inside. The caller said employees of the business refused to return his phone after he plugged it in to charge.
The caller led officers to 2244 W. Main St., a business that’s two doors down from the bar which formerly housed Mystique Hair Salon. They immediately saw several men sitting around gambling tables behind an interior wall that separated the storefront from the rest of the space.
The men inside “immediately attempted to shut the door leading into the gambling area,” according to a search warrant.
“Behind that wall is where investigators found slot machines, gaming tables, money machines,” said Sarah Jensen, Norman Police Department spokesperson.
Officers arrested six men, three of whom have since been charged with conducting illegal gambling, which is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $2,000 fine.
Silong Wang, 22; Qiu Lin Zou, 47; and Cong Li, 24, are facing the felony charge.
Zailin Jin, 21, is facing a misdemeanor gambling charge. Officers also arrested Zhuang Xing-Zheng and Rijin Zheng, who have not yet been charged with any crime.
“They were actually very polite guys,” said Gary Cahill, who owns the HobbyTown store between the two businesses allegedly involved in the gambling operation.
Cahill said new owners took over the karaoke bar in the summer of last year but tended to avoid publicity.
“There was never anyone here, there was never anyone to answer the phone, and no one ever said, ‘We’re open for business,” Cahill said. “There were occasions I would get into work before 8 (a.m.), and there would be people leaving. Some of them highly intoxicated. So, it was obvious they were having private parties.”
Officer found ledgers and receipts that led them to four residences in Yukon, south Oklahoma City, and Norman. After serving six other search warrants at the homes, police found more than $50,000 in cash, various illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and a bottle labeled “Ketamine.”
Jensen said investigators believe they’ve apprehended everyone involved in the operation, but additional arrests are possible.
“I know that for most of our investigators, it is the first time that they’ve seen instances of this nature,” she said.