The latest killing happened as police throughout the county combat a rise in under-the-table betting.
“We’re seeing a lot more of it,” Santa Ana Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told The Epoch Times. “It’s a big problem everywhere—a huge problem.”
The illegal activity is hardly confined to Santa Ana.
Police in Anaheim said they raided an illegal gambling ring on Feb. 10 that was operating inside a fake furniture store.
About 70 people were arrested following the bust, which also led police to drugs, guns, cash, and gambling machines.
The faux furniture store was located directly next door to another gambling ring that was raided by police last October.
Earlier last year, police in Westminster shut down a similar operation being run inside a pool hall.
A Dangerous Gamble
Such activities aren’t just unlawful—they can also be deadly, police said.
An unidentified man was shot on Feb. 16 outside an illegal gambling location at the 300 block of North Harbor Boulevard, police said.
After being mortally wounded, he walked about two blocks to Cozy Corner Drive-In at 426 N. Harbor Blvd, and collapsed near the entrance doors about 11 p.m.
The unresponsive man was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
There have been six homicides so far this year, and four were gun-related. Of the total deaths, police said, three were related to illegal gambling rings.
Some of the so-called slaphouses are quietly run inside businesses, while others are based in residences, Bertagna said.
“That’s a problem not just for Santa Ana but for many cities because there’s money in it,” he said.
“When it comes to these nets, the gangs are involved because there’s money. The gang members are going to these, and often something goes wrong and it leads to a shooting.”
There were a total of three homicides at this time last year.
Police are asking anyone with information on the latest case to call (714) 245-8390 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.