Fresno marijuana grow leads to discovery of illegal gambling operation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police were investigating a marijuana grow when they accidentally stumbled upon an illegal gambling operation.

Police said it's no secret that slot machines are addictive.

Sgt. Curtis Chastain said, "And it's not unlike an addiction of other substances. People will play them and with the odds not in their favor."

Investigators seized five slot machines from a home in Central Fresno Wednesday night that were set up on a back porch as a makeshift gambling room. Officers actually stumbled upon the illegal machines by accident. They were originally there to shut down a marijuana grow in the backyard. When officers discovered the slot machines they realized they had something bigger on their hands.

Sgt. Chastain said, "These machines are constructed by an underground market. They've built them specifically for that (and) they've tried to make them hardened."

The suspect even had signs on the wall saying the maximum jackpot is $3,000 -- and "Good luck, enjoy!"

Fresno police arrested Patty Vang and Thanehack Linhthong for running an illegal gambling operation and growing marijuana. Investigators also found several guns at their home. Officers say the couple may have made up to $1,000 per machine and that running illegal operations like this are more common than you'd think.

Sgt. Chastain said, "We've seized hundreds of these over the last few years. A lot of them we've seized from the back of store rooms where we've gotten tips and leads where people were going in and spending their money. Elderly would be going in, too."

Officers say Linhthong and Vang are no strangers to breaking the law. The convicted felons are banned from owning guns and Linhthong is a documented gang member.

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