Authorities raided several establishments in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park on Thursday where customers allegedly logged on to computer games and illegally gambled for money.
Such "cybercafes" have become increasingly common, but Thursday's raids involving dozens of law enforcement agents marked the first time such establishments have been targeted in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Mike Lazzarini said.
"It's spreading like wildfire. It's like this new business idea, and it's not legal," Lazzarini said.
Search warrants were served at four businesses: Cyber Caf?SR on West Third Street in Santa Rosa, Computer Place on Santa Rosa Avenue, Cyber Caf?on Redwood Drive in Rohnert Park and Jukebox Guys Corporation on Martin Drive in Rohnert Park.
Lazzarini said the businesses are owned by Andrew Lee, 56, of Rohnert Park.
Lazzarini said detectives seized more than 100 computers and more than $150,000 in cash and business records from the establishments.
A search of Lee's home netted more cash, computers and business records, Lazzarini said.
He said police were tipped to the operations by complaints about the "shady characters" who were seen patronizing the businesses.
"They weren't there to check their email. They were there to gamble," Lazzarini said.
The gambling involved dozens of different games, including card and slot-machine games, he said.
Lee was not arrested Thursday. Lazzarini said the investigation will be forwarded to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office for its review.
Four Sonoma County residents who worked at the establishments received misdemeanor citations for facilitating the use of illegal gaming devices.
They were identified as Juriana Rodriguez Lara, 26, of Santa Rosa; Lucero Gomez-Altamirano, 25, of Rohnert Park; Jessica Ceclilea Briggs, 23, of Cotati; and Lourdes Juarez Orozco, 19, of Santa Rosa.
You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or email@example.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.