A year-long investigation leading to the identification of millions of dollars allegedly being laundered through Lower Mainland casinos has resulted in the arrest of nine people by police in the Canadian province of British Colombia, according to the province’s gang task force.
CBC News British Columbia reports that in May of last year investigators began the probe when according to them they determined that members of an alleged crime organization responsible for several illegal gambling houses were aiding drug traffickers in money laundering as well as being involved in kidnapping, loan sharking, and extortion, said Kevin Hackett, Assistant Commissioner of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU).
The CFSEU’s new Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team conducted the investigation. Among its members are the provincial government’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Hackett told reporters, “It’s safe to say that we’re looking at millions of dollars” being laundered.”
The alleged crime group, investigators say, has ties throughout Canada, along with Mainland China and other countries.
Hackett said that illegal gaming, money laundering, and loan sharking make for an attractive income source for organized crime. He said, “Clients who utilize these services need to be aware that often the cash being provided to them is from illegal activity, and that using such services provides financial support to criminals and funds their illegal enterprises and operations,” according to the BC news agency.
Among the limited information provided by Hackett regarding the identity of the individuals who were arrested, was that none of the nine are in custody and no charges have been filed. He did say, however, that among the possible charges are counts related to drug trafficking, money laundering, being part of a criminal organization, and proceeds of crime.
Very little, in fact, has been revealed by investigators regarding the alleged criminal investigation, according to the report. Officials reportedly explaining that the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated. At which casinos the alleged money laundering took place was not revealed by Hackett who said only that three or four illegal gambling houses were identified.
Hackett added that at least one of the three or four alleged illegal gambling houses is located in the city of Richmond and it was reportedly searched by officers warrant in hand on Monday night. Known for its Asian influences, Richmond is home to the International Buddhist Temple, a complex resembling Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Golden Village district, and Vancouver International Airport.
Over the course of the investigation, six homes in total have been searched and officers have reportedly seized computers, cash and bank drafts, drug paraphernalia, cell phones, and several luxury vehicles, one which was outfitted with a hidden compartment.