Police in central Texas conducted a raid on Monday that resulted in the arrest of a local man suspected of being the mastermind behind illegal gambling operations that could have been bringing in up to $9.6 million a year.
According to a report from local television broadcaster KXAN-TV, the arrest of Chong Pak at his home in the small Austin suburb of Hutto followed an investigation that began in late-January while the 53-year-old has subsequently been charged with money laundering and engaging in organized crime, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison along with a fine of $10,000.
The broadcaster reported that the raid by the Austin Police Department and Williamson County SWAT also resulted in the seizure of $724,736 in cash, which is believed to be income Pak illicitly amassed as a result of his illegal gambling operations, as well as three vehicles valued at around $94,550 and gold and silver ingots thought to be worth approximately $7,500.
KXAN-TV reported that Pak is suspected of being the proprietor behind six to eight illegal gambling rooms offering a selection of leased eight-liner machines, which are similar to more traditional video slots, while the ongoing crackdown has moreover resulted in the subsequent arrests of at least nine other suspects.
Troy Officer from the Austin Police Department’s organized crime unit reportedly declared that there are about 80 illegal gaming rooms in the Austin area located in warehouses, homes and storefronts and that just one of these small operations could earn a proprietor at least $1.2 million a year.
“Anyone who says these game rooms are a victimless crime and people are willingly taking part in this, have no idea what the ultimate pocket is for the illegal activity,” Officer told KXAN-TV before adding that the cash found at Pak’s home most likely represents just a drop in the bucket.
Officer additionally stated that the area’s illegal gaming rooms are a breeding ground for robbery and violent crimes while their proceeds are often utilized to fund illicit activities including drugs trafficking and terrorism.
“We may not get you today [and] we may not get you tomorrow but we will get you [and] we will put you in jail and we will come after your money and take what you covet most about doing these operations; your illegal games,” Officer warned other illegal operators via the broadcaster.