Nine people have been charged. Six of them are licensed peace officers who all appeared in court Monday morning. Attorneys for the officers tell us their clients had no idea anything illegal was happening.
All of the officers worked security at Rancho El Herradero, which prosecutors say was an illegal horse-racing and gambling operation that they've been investigating for close to a year.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office says the officers were at the track every Saturday. There were allegedly concession stands there, and they say about 100 people in the stands were placing bets on horses.
"Some of the officers were even giving tips or providing betting information to some of the patrons," prosecutor Ed McClees said.
Multiple undercover surveillance operations took place during the lengthy investigation, according to the DA's office.
"Two undercover officers handed money to each other, and that's supposed to constitute knowing betting was going on at a track," defense attorney Burt Springer said. "It seems to me that they're charging the Swiss Guard with something the Pope did."
Law enforcement officers charged have been identified as Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office Deputies Secar Guadelupe Rangel and Joel Garcia, DPS State Trooper Richard Rene Rivera, Fort Bend County Pct. 2 Constable's Office Reserve Deputies David Green and Edward Scott, and Maverick County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy Carlos Garza.
Civilians charged have been identified as Reginaldo Mandujano, Diana Marie Salinas and Consuelo Rivera. Rivera is also charged with impersonating a peace officer.
Bond was set at $5,000 for all nine defendants. All of them will be back in court November 21. Of the six officers charged, five have since lost their jobs and one has been suspended.
Please stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com as we continue following this story.
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