LAURINBURG, NC (WTVD) -- More than 26 people with the Tuscarora Nation were arrested Monday afternoon in Robeson County. Members of the sovereign citizen group face charges that include gambling, manufacturing controlled substances, and money laundering at casinos in Maxton, Pembroke and Red Springs.
The investigation involved several agencies and lasted more than a year.
Investigators said the group was operating three illegal casinos, an unlicensed police force and an indoor marijuana group with multiple outdoor grows.
"Citizens living near the casinos complained of the illegal activity taking place and notified law enforcement," said Terrance Merriweather, head of N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, the agency that executed Monday's search warrants. "This group openly expressed beliefs that neither the laws of North Carolina nor the United States applied to them, putting law-abiding citizens in danger. We hope today's arrests provide a safer community for them."
The Robeson County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked with ALE on the year-long operation.
The casinos had one-arm bandit, Pot of Gold and other illegal gambling machines housed in blacked-out buildings with no clocks. The casinos operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and all had heavily-armed security who were not only unlicensed but using blue lights in their trucks.
Those arrested include the Tuscarora Nation's leader, Kendall Locklear, his son, Keaton, the armed personnel at the casinos and other casino employees.
"Most of the offenders arrested today were considered to be armed and dangerous and many have criminal records," said Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey. "People living in those towns were scared of the activities taking place around the casinos. At the end of the day, this operation is all about community betterment."
The following people were arrested for felonious operate, allow to be operated and keep in possession of illegal slot machines; and gambling:
Kendall Locklear, 57
Michelle Locklear, 46
Kendrick Locklear, 21
Micheal Locklear, 17
Fredrick Hawkins, 45
Timmy Oxendine, 46
Perry Locklear, 44
Timothy Jacobs, 44
Keton Oxendine, 24
Jerry Oxendine, 59
Edith Oxendine, 55
Miranda Jo Dial
Robert Chavis, 62
Derena Chavis, 52
Felicia Campbell, 46
Dustin Warriax, 48
Richard Sampson, 44
Marcus Bullard, 19