11 arrested at Grand Falls Casino during undercover operation
People go to the casino to win big, but over the weekend several people won a ticket to the county jail during an undercover operation at the Grand Falls Casino.
Deputies from the Lyon County Sheriff's Office arrested 11 people on drug charges Saturday night while Cheech and Chong performed at the venue.
The Lyon County Sheriff says these types of patrols aren't routine, but the office will do them when they think they need to show their presence.
“We thought we need to nip it in the bud now before it gets way out of whack,” Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep said.
He says deputies have responded to an increase in calls to the Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort parking lot over the course of the last few weeks.
“We had break-ins in the cars, in fact one involved a stolen gun out of a vehicle, and we had a fight,” he said.
Deputies patrolled the parking lot Saturday night.
“It was just officers walking by cars, and just looking in cars with people in there, and they'd be smoking marijuana or paraphernalia right out there in the open,” he said.
They arrested 11 people on misdemeanor drug charges.
“It did surprise me that there were that many that were doing it,” he said.
The casino’s managers say they didn't know the sheriff's office was conducting a sting while Cheech and Chong performed to an audience of more than 1,100 people.
“I think that was probably very much a very isolated incident for Saturday night,” General Manager Sharon Haselhoff said.
“I would like to think that, that was the case. That it was just more isolated, but again it was more just to be a presence out there to the other crimes and issues that have been going on,” Stoep said.
Grand Falls Casino General Manager Sharon Haselhoff says they take security seriously and all you need to do is simply look up and you can find several cameras.
“Whether you get caught right away or later on, you're going to get caught. So, really it's the last place you ever want to do criminal activity,” she said. “Obviously we want a safe, fun environment for our guests, and so we have a great working relationship with Lyon County. So, you know, whatever they can do to help us out with that, we are you know in favor of that,” Haselhof said.
The 11 people who were arrested face at least one of two charges, possession of controlled substances, which is a serious misdemeanor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor.
Sheriff Vander Stoep says he believes the number of the arrests show that the attitude around marijuana is changing, but it is still illegal in the state of Iowa.