British Columbia’s crackdown on illegal gambling houses, money laundering, and other illegal activities continues, and recently resulted in two successful raids. Nine people are under direct investigation relating to the possible crimes.
In April 2016, Finance Minister Michael de Jong suspected that illegal gambling was providing cover for high-level organized crime in Vancouver and other cities of the Lower Mainland, and started a special investigative team made up of agents from the Combined Special Enforcement Unit, and local gambling enforcement officials. At its peak, 200 people have been involved in the operation.
The raids came following months of investigative work. The special enforcement team had to trace money laundering, loan sharking, and extortion complaints, as well as illegal gambling houses and kidnapping cases, and find how the same criminal outfit tied them all together. The investigation began in May 2016, just one month after de Jong organized the task force.
Several people were involved in the illegal operations, according to Kevin Hackett, the RCMP assistant commission who worked on this case with the CFSEU. Nobody has been charged yet, but possible charges for the nine men include drug trafficking, money laundering, and other things that may come up during the investigation. They were not employed by the Lower Mainland casinos.
None of the casinos involved in the illegal gambling operations were named specifically, but Hackett did say that the amount of money laundering was into the millions. All of the casinos were located in the Lower Mainland.
The Lower Mainland criminal outfit also worked internationally, with connections stretching to China and other countries. The joint illegal gaming team is looking into those connections, which they found in the course of their investigations.
During a single raid of six houses, the special unit also seized many of the organization’s assets. Those assets included cash, drugs, cellphones, computers and even several luxury vehicles, one of which had a secret compartment hidden inside.
The task force had also carried out a separate raid a few weeks later at an illegal gambling house associated with the group. That house, in Richmond, is one of three or four illegal gambling houses currently under investigation as part of the criminal group.
The overall goal of the investigative team is to continue finding out where the money laundering is coming from, and stop it at its source through appropriate law enforcement measures.