$7.5M in Assets Seized After Canadian Illegal Gambling Raid, 29 Arrests Made

Posted on: October 1, 2020, 08:56h. 

Last updated on: October 1, 2020, 10:04h.

Canadian police announced Wednesday they raided a 53-room mansion used as an alleged illegal casino earlier this summer in Markham. The search led to the seizure of approximately CAD 10M (US$7.5M) in property and currency.

So far 45 suspects were arrested as a result of the investigation into allegedly illegal gaming
Some of the $1 million in Canadian currency (US$752,080) seized by police this summer in Markham, Ontario at an alleged illegal casino. (Image: York Regional Police)

York Regional Police seized more than CAD 1 million (US$752,080) in cash, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and 11 assorted firearms from the 20,000-square-foot house, during a July 23 raid north of Toronto. Weapons included an AR-15 rifle with a 30-round magazine, as well as a 9-mm Glock handgun found in the operator’s bedroom.

Slot machines, mahjong tables, and more than CAD 1.5 million (US$1.1M) worth of alcohol were additionally seized. A “fully-operational casino” was discovered in the mansion’s basement, police added. There were “extremely high” betting limits at the tables, officers further revealed.

The house also had a spa and rooms for guests. The “high-end” operation was linked to organized crime, police claim.

“When braised shark fin is on the menu and the max bet at the baccarat table is $20k, you can expect plenty of cash around. To guard that cash, these suspects had guns. Lots of them,” the York police department posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday. Sale of shark fin is illegal in Canada.

The mansion is valued at about CAD 9 million (US$6.8M). It also was seized.

As of Wednesday, 29 suspects were charged with a total of 74 criminal offenses, police said. Police add they are investigating possible links with human sex trafficking.

Project Endgame

Police first got a tip on the operation in late 2019. The inquiry began in May when York police started to look into illegal gaming dens and underground casinos in Markham.

Our officers confirmed that this was a large, high-end operation,” York Police Supt. Mike Slack said during a press conference held Wednesday in front of the mansion. “Gamblers had access to accommodations, spa treatment, high-end food, and beverage services.”

Called “Project Endgame,” the investigation so far has led to the arrests of four suspects each on multiple charges, including illegal gambling counts. They were identified as Wei Wei, 52, Wei Dong, 32, Xiang Yue Chen, 48, and Chen Wei, 25.

Other suspects were charged with a single crime each. Each charge related to gambling.

Two other properties were also searched as part of a wider effort to crack down on illegal gambling in the region. More property was seized. York police have made 47 other recent arrests for gambling-related charges, reported CBC, Canada’s national TV network.

Ontario Illegal Gambling Ring Uncovered

Last December, authorities uncovered what’s thought to be one of the nation’s biggest underground gambling rings in its history.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said their inquiry led to the discovery of an alleged illegal gambling network that raked in $131 million over a five-year span. Police seized 21 firearms, houses, cars, and cash while arresting 28 Ontario residents.

The OPP believes the network had ties to the Hells Angels, as well as a prominent Canadian Mafia crime family. The OPP said the investigation ran two years.

Money Launderer Killed in British Columbia

Last month two Chinese Canadians suspected by authorities of involvement in a billion-dollar casino money laundering scheme were shot at a Japanese restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia.

One of the men, Jian Jun Zhu, 44, died at the scene. The other, Paul King Jin, was hospitalized and was released following treatment, police said.

This summer Kevin Barton, a 60-year-old Canadian blackjack and poker player, was charged in connection with the death of his gaming partner, Vida Smith, 69. Nine days after her disappearance, he was charged with manslaughter. He has also been charged with 27 weapons violations, CBC reported.