After a week-long undercover investigation by the Hillsville Police Department, two females have been arrested in connection with an illegal gambling operating in the town of Hillsville.
The arrests stem from an illegal gambling operation featuring more than 25 gambling machines at Taste The Vape, a vape shop located in the strip mall that also houses the Blue Ridge Plateau Regional Visitor’s Center – which is located adjacent to the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market. In addition to the gambling machines, Hillsville Police Chief Wesley Yonce said approximately $7,000 in cash was seized Sunday from the illegal operation. All the illegal gambling machines confiscated Sunday were located in a side-room, hidden by drapes, inside the Taste the Vape business. He said anonymous tips led to the undercover investigation, resulting in the arrests and seizures.
“We were getting calls every day about people going to businesses around the Farmers Market asking for the casino,” Yonce said. “We were getting complaints every day about the noise and the traffic coming from the local business.”
Yonce said Crystal Gayle Neeley, of Statesville, North Carolina, has been arrested and charged with one felony count of conducting an illegal gambling operation, along with four misdemeanor charges that include aiding and abetting in the operation of an illegal gambling operation, allowing illegal gambling to be conducted without notifying law enforcement, illegally possessing gambling devices, and carrying a concealed weapon on or about her person. She also has been charged locally with unlawfully operating a gambling room.
Candy Campbell, also from Statesville, North Carolina, has been arrested and charged with the same felony and misdemeanors as Ms. Neeley, but was not given the concealed weapons charge, Yonce said.
Both arrests were made at 231 Farmers Market Road, Suite 6, in Hillsville. Any cash and illegal devices, plus anything used to assist in the gambling, were confiscated.
Yonce said the investigation is still ongoing with more charges anticipated.
“I want to thank the citizens of Hillsville for their cooperation and information that led to the arrests and I want to thank all my officers for a job well done,” Yonce said, noting HPD officers were at the business for more than 10 hours Sunday.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN