Willacy Co. Residents Concerned with Rise of 8-Liner Businesses

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SEBASTIAN – Driving through Sebastian, you can count over a handful of 8-liner businesses setting up shop in minutes. 

The small community is worried the businesses breed criminal activity.

Sebastian is home to more than 2,000 residents.

Amongst those is Joe Salinas. He grew up in the quiet town but said the peace is dying as a flurry of 8-liner businesses move in.

“They're consuming our little town. From – you go north of town, center of town, east of town, west of town – you've already got 8-liners,” said Salinas.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence has taken notice of the rapid growth of game room machines in Sebastian.

The community is unincorporated and doesn’t have an ordinance against the operation of 8-liners or “maquinitas.”

"It's frustrating to the local citizens because they're there, and some of them are open for long periods of time," said Spence "It's frustrating for law enforcement to drive by and see it. But until somebody comes forth and says this and this happened, and we look into it and it's a violation of the law, there's not a whole lot we can do."

Spence admitted to receiving complaints from people worried about the hours of operation, sketchy activity and the potential for accidents.

He said he’s committed to keeping the community safe and plans on having deputies more vigilant of the 8-liner businesses to address both the department's and the community's concerns.

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