A Brief Look at Crime 8/06 -8/12

Macau Raids Casinos After Deadly Attacks on Guests

Macau police in operation with Chinese and Hong Kong authorities raided a number of casinos and hotels during the late night and early morning hours of August 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) in what is being codenamed “Operation Thunderbolt”. The raid follows a series of murders and attacks targeting tourists.  1300 people have been questioned and 150 of those detained as a result of the investigation.  “Crime comes inevitably with casinos,” Au Kam-sun, a Macau lawmaker, said yesterday in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. “The police make a clean-up every now and then to keep the triads in check.” 130 individuals were arrested on Thursday August 2 as part of a cheating scheme at three unidentified casinos.  That case involved $11.6 million with casino dealers alleged to have taken bribes.  They are also accused of using tiny cameras to take images of cards on baccarat tables.

 Police’s operation to combat organized crime

Officers of Police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB), together with the Financial Investigations Division of Narcotics Bureau and Crime Unit of New Territories North mounted an operation codenamed “Firepage” to combat money laundering activities by triad societies yesterday (August 2). After in-depth investigations, Police raided a total of 21 locations in the territory during early hours yesterday and arrested 84 men and 46 women aged between 30 and 69. They were suspected in connection with a variety of offences including money laundering, gambling in illegal gambling establishments, managing vice establishments, selling dutiable fuel and other triad related offences. During the operation, Police seized about $3.4 million cash (including Hong Kong dollars and foreign currencies), 11 watches and two private cars, with a total value of $8 million. Police investigations revealed that the target triad societies were in connection with money laundering activities involving over $300 million. The operation is still under way.

 MIT students scammed Massachusetts State Lottery for $8 million: report

Maybe MIT should stand for “muggers in training.” Ten years after a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and a professor famously took Las Vegas casinos to the cleaners counting cards, a new gambling scandal has arisen that involves MIT: a researcher and a group of students scammed the Massachussets Lottery. Worse though, is that the Massachusetts Lottery knew they were doing it and chose to share in the windfall instead of protecting the integrity of the game. The math whizzes were looking for a unique school project when a couple of them figured out that it would only take about $100,000 in tickets to guarantee success in the Cash WinFall game. When the jackpot rose to $2 million or more, group members bought in and shared in the prize money. By 2005, the group had earned about $8 million in winnings, reported the Boston Globe. Despite an obvious conflict of interest in knowing that the game was compromised, officials continued to allow hundreds of thousands of $2 tickets to be bought by the merry band of thieves, the paper reported.

 Woman left five children alone in car while gambling

For about an hour one night last week, Yulissa Troncoso was paged repeatedly over the intercom as she played the slots at the Sands casino, Bethlehem police said. The casino was trying to reach her because her five kids — the youngest 10 months old — had been discovered alone in her car with the windows cracked open slightly, police said. The high temperature that day, July 26, had been 91 degrees. In what could be the first case of its kind locally, Troncoso, 33, of 518 N. Dauphin St. in east Allentown, was charged Friday with leaving her kids alone in her car while she gambled.  She cried as she was arraigned on five counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said, and then was sent to Northampton County Prison under $10,000 bail. “She wanted to gamble and she took her gamble and lost,” police Lt. Mark DiLuzio said. “You don’t leave a child alone in a car, unattended, under any circumstances.”

 Las Vegas Sands faces federal probe, WSJ says

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that casino-hotel operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being probed for possible violations of U.S. money-laundering laws.  The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles are investigating whether Las Vegas Sands Corp. and “several” executives violated laws by “failing to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to its casinos by two Las Vegas high rollers,” the Journal’s article says.  The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles is looking at how the company handled millions of dollars from a Mexican businessman who was later indicted in the USA for drug trafficking, and a former California businessman who was later convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, according to the Journal.

 Casino analyst sentenced to prison in slot cheating scheme

A former analyst with the state’s largest casino company was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Monday in an elaborate player’s club scheme on the Strip. Tony Ahn, 29, who lost his job amid the cheating scandal, pleaded guilty in May to spearheading the conspiracy. He acknowledged betraying the trust of his company, then known as MGM Mirage, to unlawfully win $863,895 from slot machines. U.S. District Judge James Mahan ordered Ahn on Monday to pay the entire $863,895 in restitution and serve two years of supervised release after he gets out of prison. The judge gave Ahn until Nov. 5 to surrender to federal prison authorities. “This is an American tragedy to see you here,” Mahan told Ahn. “You have so much potential. I hope you see this as a positive and turn your life around.” Ahn apologized to the judge and promised never to get in trouble with the law again. “I definitely made a big mistake,” he said. “There’s no excuse for what I did.”

 Corsican mafia figure gunned down at butcher shop

An alleged key figure in one of Corsica’s most powerful crime families, Maurice Costa of the “Brise de Mer” gang, was gunned down in broad daylight Tuesday at his local butcher shop, police said.  Two masked gunmen shot and killed Costa, 60, at 11:08 am (0908 GMT) through the window of the butcher shop in the village of Ponte-Leccia in the north of the French island, police said.  Police said a single hunting rifle was fired at least twice and that Costa died on the spot after being struck in the chest. The gunmen fled in a car that was later found burned a few kilometres (miles) from the village.  The gang, named after a bar in the northeastern Corsican city of Bastia where members allegedly gathered, is considered one of the most powerful and influential criminal organisations on the island. The gang, whose presumed members often denied its existence at trial, was allegedly involved in a wide range of crimes from money laundering to illegal gambling.

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