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Hillsville police bust illegal gambling operation

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Police: vape shop was front for casino

By Sara Blankenship

HILLSVILLE – Two North Carolina women face multiple charges in Carroll County after an investigation by the Hillsville Police Department led to the discovery of an illegal gambling operation.

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According to Hillsville Police Chief Wesley Yonce, his department discovered an illegal gambling site at the strip mall next to the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market at Interstate 77’s Exit 14 in Hillsville. The site was being operated inside a vape shop called Taste The Vape at 231 Farmers Market Road, Suite 6.

Yonce told members of Hillsville Town Council on Monday that eight officers from his department spent almost 10 hours at the store on May 7 confiscating multiple gambling machines and other evidence. “It was an elaborate gambling scheme pretending to be a vape shop,” he said.

According to Det. Sgt. Alan Gravely, the business sold vape products and accessories in the front of the store and the gambling operation was in the back of the business, concealed by curtains.

Yonce told town council members that 27 small gambling machines and one large machine were seized from the business, as well as thousands of dollars in cash. Also seized were computers, TVs and a closed-circuit video security system.

The owners of the business, Crystal Gayle Neeley and Candy Elmore Campbell, both of Statesville, N.C., were arrested on May 7 and face several charges.

According to the Virginia Courts website, each woman faces a felony charge of conducting an illegal gambling operation and misdemeanor charges for aiding and abetting in the operation of an illegal gambling operation, allowing illegal gambling to be conducted without notifying law enforcement and illegally possessing gambling devices. Neeley has an additional misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

According to Yonce, Neeley and Campbell also face local charges for unlawfully operating a gambling room. The investigation is still ongoing and more charges are anticipated, Yonce said.

Both women are being held in the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin without bond. Bond hearings are set for today, Friday, at 9:30 a.m.