- Nine arrested in connection with alleged organized crime at BC casino
- The investigation is ongoing, but authorities say they have uncovered a vast network of criminal activity so far
Police in British Columbia, Canada have reported that a criminal gang has allegedly exploited some casinos in the Canadian province to illegally launder money by gambling.
Following a round of investigations, nine arrests have now been made. Those detained are reported to have been part of an illegal gang that used British Columbia casinos to legalize “millions of dollars” in drug money.
‘Millions of dollars being laundered’
According to Kevin Hackett, assistant commissioner of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, the team has now exposed a sizeable network of criminals, all of whom have dabbled in drug trafficking, kidnapping, illegal gambling, and extortion, among other offences.
However, because the official investigation is still under way, Hackett was unable to name any suspects or comment on which specific British Columbia casinos had been targeted. All that is known is that the gambling establishments exploited by the gang are situated in the Lower Mainland part of the province.
“During the investigation, it was apparent there were multiple roles filled by different people [who] enabled or facilitated the organization in laundering large amounts of money through casinos. It’s safe to say that we’re looking at millions of dollars being laundered.”
Kevin Hackett, assistant commissioner of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit
As is the case with the majority of casinos, those in British Columbia are bound by stringent anti-money laundering laws. Under these regulations, casino staff across Canada must report any transactions that exceed a threshold of CA$10,000 ($7,500).
Not only must casino employees report transactions of this size, but the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, as well as the country’s financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC must also be informed if transactions under this amount appear to be at all suspicious in nature.
Peter Goudron, executive director of the British Columbia Gaming Industry Association, said, “Given the robust AML [anti-money laundering] procedures in place at BC [British Columbia] casinos, we are unaware how this could have taken place, and expect to learn more about their allegations in the near future.”
On the subject of the allegations, Kevin Hackett has said that the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit have also “raided an illegal gambling house in Richmond,” which the Unit believes to be under control of the very same criminal network who used casinos to launder millions.
“Money laundering, loan sharking, and illegal gaming provide an attractive source of income for organized crime,” noted Hackett. “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,” he warned.
Canada’s unlucky week
The coming to light of these alleged casino crimes has, this week, been accompanied by yet more bad luck for Canada. On Monday, the data of many casino-goers was illegally posted online, after being stolen from the Cowboys Casino in Calgary around a year ago. A supplementary note proclaimed that this action was ‘only the beginning.’
This comes after the self-proclaimed hackers reportedly asked Cowboys Casino to “fix the holes in their system.” The request was ignored by the casino, and the hackers were able to steal what they say were “data ripe for the taking.”