Illegal Gaming Enterprises Pumped Millions into Criminal Organizations
Eighteen organizations have combined to take down a major illegal gaming enterprise operated by and linked to members of known criminal organizations.
At a news conference, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Thomas CARRIQUE, Chief Superintendent Paul BEESLEY Commander of the OPP Investigation and Support Bureau and Executive Director Stephane BONIN of Canada Revenue Agency were joined by several representatives from the partner agencies to unveil the outcome of a complex multijurisdictional investigation.
Project HOBART began in January 2018 as the result of an escalation in violence across Ontario and Quebec which included attempted murders, arsons, extortion threats, shootings and assaults from August of 2017 into May of 2018. The project targeted the illegal gaming criminal organization controlled by three known members and one ‘prospect’ of the Hell’s Angels outlaw motorcycle gang – specifically Robert BARLETTA, Craig McILQUHAM, Eugenio (‘Gino’) REDA and Raffaele SIMONELLI. During the course of the investigation, a known member of Hell’s Angels and a member of this illegal gaming criminal organization – Michael DEABAITUA-SCHULDE – was murdered in March of 2019 as he left a gym he frequented in Peel Region.
The broader investigation and active takedowns last week involved members of OPP Criminal Investigation Branch, Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Biker Enforcement Unit, the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, the RCMP, London Police Service, Niagara Regional Police, Halton Regional Police, Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Sault Ste. Marie Police, Barrie Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Stratford Police Service, Woodstock Police Service, the Sûreté du Québec and FINTRAC – the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
During the investigation at a land-based gaming house in Mississauga and further investigation, police identified five sophisticated illegal gaming websites controlled by the BARLETTA / McILQUHAM / REDA criminal enterprise. The website names are Ultimate SB, Titan SB, PlaytoWin SB, Privada SB and Players SB. In terms of revenue, from January 1, 2019 to the beginning of July 2019, the sportsbook associated to Hells Angels brought in approximately $13-million in gaming revenue. The investigation suggests the sportsbooks have been in operation for more than five years and have brought in gross revenues of more that $131-million. Police linked the operators of this illegal gaming organization to the FIGLIOMENI Crime Family as unveiled in July 2019 by the York Regional Police-led Project SINDICATO joint forces investigation.
During the search warrants executed last week, police seized or restrained:
· Seven residences and two vacation properties valued at just over $8.1-million;
· Financial accounts holding a total of more than $1.2-million;
· 18 vehicles; including luxury and vintage automobiles, three Harley Davidson motorcycles, two snowmobiles and two golf carts;
· More than $1.7 million in cash;
· Multiple gold and silver coins and bars valued at $320,000;
· Many high-end luxury watches and jewelry valued at $303,000;
· A total of 21 firearms, including nine illegal handguns, six rifles, three shotguns and three other handguns;
· Hells Angels motorcycle gang ‘colours’;
· Two conducted energy weapons; and,
· Several ballistic vests.
As a result of this ongoing investigation, police have charged 28 people with 228 offences contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada, the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and the Income Tax Act including Commission of Offences for a Criminal Organization, Bookmaking, Firearms, Proceeds of Crime, Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Fraud against the Government and one person for Breach of Trust. The Fraud offence also pertains to income tax evasion. The Canada Revenue Agency is an investigative partner.
The majority of the accused have already appeared or are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Brampton over the next four weeks. (See attached ADDENDUM OF CHARGED PERSONS for the accused’s names, municipality of residence, charges and court dates.)
“Criminal organizations and the hallmarks of their illegal enterprises – gun violence, deaths, assaults and the extraordinary amount of money that fuel further criminal acts continue to threaten public safety. Police and partner agencies will continue to fully collaborate and aggressively target the ring leaders, their associates, and their lavish criminal lifestyle to make our cities and towns safer.” – Commissioner Thomas CARRIQUE, Ontario Provincial Police