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ICE, IRS Among Federal Agencies Involved In Raid Of Bicycle Hotel And Casino

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Authorities from several federal agencies served a search warrant on Tuesday morning at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, reports ABC7.

The raid operation was conducted by the Los Angeles High Intensity Financial Crime Area Task Force, which includes ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control, and the U.S. Attorney's office.

The exact reason for the raid has yet to be disclosed. A statement issued by Virginia Kice, a spokesperson for ICE, said that the search warrant issued by a U.S. judge was "filed under seal in relation to an ongoing investigation." It added that, because the warrant is sealed, the agency was unable "to comment on the scope or nature of the investigation."

The casino, which was was first unveiled in 1984, has had an interesting relationship with the community of Bell Gardens, to say the least. As noted at KCET:

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...the extravagant casino in Bell Gardens stands in great contrast to the surrounding working class communities, its relationship to the city is complicated. And as intimately tied as it is to the local economy, it is also an insular world that aims to draw outsiders (and keep them there for as long as their pocketbooks permit.)

Inside, it's a microcosm of the diverse spread that covers most of Los Angeles:

What's more interesting is the staff: workers, from custodians to security were Latino, Black, Middle Eastern, and Asian-American. They tell jokes, keep an eye on the floor, and interact with ease—a near miracle for communities who are constantly pitted against each other in every other way out in the real world.

In the past few years, the casino has hosted a community foundation that donated funds for 49 college scholarships. And in 2015, 21 scholarship recipients received a total of $89,000.00. This goes without saying that Bell Gardens gets a percentage of the casino's earnings, and depend on that money to pay for 40% of city funds that go towards the police department, parks, and street maintenance.

In late 2015, the casino opened a seven-story, 99-room hotel that was adjacent to the hotel. As noted by the L.A. Times, the $50 million hotel includes a fitness center, an outdoor pool deck, and 9,000 square feet of convention space.

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But the casino's stature has not always been a well-regarded one, and Tuesday's raid was not their first brush with federal authorities. The federal government took part ownership in the casino in 1991 after a jury had found that much of the funds used to construct the casino had come from Florida drug smugglers. The casino is now owned by the Bicycle Hotel & Casino LLC.