LAS VEGAS – Seven men and one woman -- including a high-ranking member of an Asian organized crime group -- have been charged with operating an illegal gambling business from several exclusive high roller villas at a local casino.
Wei Seng Phua, 50, Darren Wai Kit Phua, 22, Seng Chen Yong, 56, Wai Kin Yong, 22, all of Malaysia; Hui Tang, 44, of China; and Yan Zhang, 40, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, of Hong Kong, are charged in a criminal complaint and scheduled to make initial court appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman.
The defendants were arrested Sunday in Las Vegas by law enforcement agents with the FBI and Nevada Gaming Control Board. Each defendant is charged with one count of unlawful transmission of wagering information and one count of operating an illegal gambling business.
If convicted, they face up to two years in prison on the unlawful transmission count and up to five years in prison on the illegal gambling business count, as well as fines on each count of up to $250,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Wei Seng Phua, is known by law enforcement to be a high ranking member of the 14K Triad, an Asian organized crime group. On or about June 18, Phua was arrested in Macau, along with more than 20 other individuals, for operating an illegal sport book gambling business transacting illegal bets on the World Cup tournament.
Phua posted bail in Macau and was released. The complaint alleges that on June 23, Phua arrived in Las Vegas to continue with his associates their illegal gambling business at a local casino.
During early June, three villas were reserved at a local casino at the request of Wei Seng Phua or one of his associates. Between June 6 and June 11, Phua and two of his associates, Seng Chen Yong and Hui Tang, checked into the villas. Phua and his associates allegedly requested that the casino install an unusually large amount of electronics equipment in the villas to support eight digital subscriber line lines and WiFi access.
The casino installed and set up the equipment but became concerned the equipment appeared to be a set-up for an illegal gambling operation. In one of the villas, computer screens were observed which looked similar to the ones in the casino’s sports book, including five stations and three monitors attached to each station.
Each station’s computer tower was hooked up to a Century Link DSL line with voice over Internet protocol phones. Near the computer stations, there were three large screen televisions with service from Cox, Dish and Direct TV, each of which was tuned to World Cup soccer games.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board subsequently determined that the set-up was similar to a “wire room” where illegal wagers are made and monitored, and that the defendants were monitoring the World Cup and betting odds associated with World Cup soccer games in furtherance of operating a gambling business.
Over the next month, law enforcement agents worked undercover and monitored the activity in the villas. On July 9, federal search warrants were executed at the three villas and law enforcement agents recovered gambling records, computer equipment, and other items.
The defendants were arrested Sunday after it was determined that they were allegedly remotely controlling computers based overseas which allowed them to operate and manage their illegal gambling business from Las Vegas.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Frayn.
– From news release