Police said they arrested the head of an illegal gambling operation in South Florida – and she’s just in her teens.
Briana Rios, 19, is charged with bookmaking and running a gambling house. It was run out of Transfer Xpress, a money transfer store on Pembroke Road in Hollywood that was shut down in a raid a few months ago, authorities said in a Broward County courtroom Friday.
"The operation was used to place bets on upcoming sporting events. At one point, they even saw you standing next to the cash register where you were taking money,” Judge John Hurley told Rios.
Her alleged bookmaking occurred between October and December 2011, Hurley said.
“It looks like there were a lot of customers going in here. You even had allegedly had computers inside to help you place the bets,” Hurley added. “This doesn't look like a small, penny ante operation. Seems like a pretty big operation."
Indeed it was, according to Rios’ ex-boyfriend, Jose Solis, who says she was bringing in $10,000 a day or more. Bookies are often paid 10 percent of the wager, which means Rios could have been pulling in a profit that would prorate to about $300,000 a year.
"She's young. She's a little girl. She's 19 years old,” Solis said. “She didn't know what she was doing at the moment."
She didn’t know what she was doing before the judge at one moment either on Friday. After Hurley said that bets were placed for the NFL and NBA, Rios incriminated herself by finishing his sentence by adding “hockey” to his list.
"OK. Thanks for filling in the gap there, Ma'am,” he responded.
Rios said she has lived in South Florida her whole life and attended Miami Senior High School.
Hurley set her bond at $20,000 for each of the two counts against her, and she remained in jail Friday night.
Neighboring businesses said they were surprised to learn police believe that a big-time bookmaking shop was next door.
"I saw her on the place a couple of times,” said Courtney Hutchinson, co-owner of the H&M Bar. “But she looked like a innocent young lady going in there to transfer money somewhere."
Solis said that his ex-girlfriend was not, in fact, “a mastermind of the whole gambling situation.”
Instead, the man who was in charge hired her, but he fled to the Dominican Republic and left her in charge, Solis said.
“She's just an employee there,” he said.