Catching monster waves and awesome sunsets just got a lot more difficult for more than a dozen people in Hawaii. They are all part of an illegal gambling ring that was just broken up this week by law enforcement officials from several departments as part of an ongoing plan by U.S. District Attorney Kenju Price to rid Hawaii of its seedy underbelly of illicit activity.
Raids were conducted on two illegal gaming operations in homes in both Pearl City and Waipahu on the Hawaiian island Oahu this past Monday. The Honolulu Police Department participated in the enforcement action alongside the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Department of Homeland Security. By the time they were wrapping up, 60 illegal gaming machines had been confiscated and $150,000 in cash seized.
15 people were reportedly tied to the illegal gaming houses. Eight were able to be arrested on the spot, but seven got away. Their efforts to avoid captivity will most likely still end badly, given that leaving the island is virtually impossible with some seriously well-placed connections.
When the results of the raids were announced yesterday, Price asserted, “With today’s announcement of criminal charges, civil forfeitures, complaints, and seizures, we’re communicating a very clear message to illegal game room owners. Our goal is to take your property through civil or criminal forfeiture. And if you or anyone else you know happens to get a cut of the proceeds of illegal gambling, we’ll be trying to seize that, too.”
A Department of Justice notice on the bust indicates that the gambling businesses were operating since at least October of last year. Of the individuals who were indicted due to their involvement with the illegal casinos, some are also looking at charges related to separate crimes, including robbery, firearm and illicit drug possession and arson.
The enforcement activity is just getting into a rhythm, too. Price warns that more raids are coming, asserting in his statement, “Through our investigations, we’ve identified 80 illegal game rooms on Oahu alone. They’re located in commercial areas and houses located in residential areas. Our plan is to serve the owners or operators of each of these gambling establishments with a notice of illegal use of their property.”