Law enforcement officers have uncovered what they say is the largest gambling ring in the state's history.
About 20 search warrants were served Tuesday at homes, restaurants and other businesses in Salt Lake, Weber, Utah and Carbon counties. One hundred federal and local authorities served the warrants, culminating a six-month investigation."We've recovered in excess of over $1 million and close to $2 million in gold, silver, cash, diamonds and jewelry," Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said Wednesday. He expects the final value of the property will exceed $2 million when the investigation is completed.
Agents also seized an entire home in Sandy, several "high-tech quality firearms," 10 vehicles, stocks, a large screen TV and many other assets that are believed to have been purchased with the proceeds from the illegal gambling operation.
"Without a doubt, it's the largest gambling investigation and seizure that's ever occurred in Utah," echoed Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom.
Those who participated in the sports bookmaking and money laundering operation allegedly took bets from people throughout the country on professional and collegiate sporting events. The operation is believed to have been running for as long as five years, the sheriff said.
"Anything that they can bet on they did."
Hundreds of people are believed to have placed bets or otherwise participated in the operation, said American Fork Police Chief John Durrant.
Although no arrests have yet been made, Kennard said he thinks between 20 and 25 people will be charged with federal crimes in connection with the case. "There's a couple of kingpins we're really going after," he said.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between several agencies: the IRS, U.S. Marshal's office, U.S. Attorney's office, Salt Lake County Attorney's office, Salt Lake County Sheriff's office, American Fork, Ogden and Roy police.
The probe involved Lee's Restaurant, Pleasant Grove; Golden China, Salt Lake City; ARI, Midvale; Mergers International, Salt Lake City; Jade Terrace, Roy; Ding Ho, Salt Lake City; China City Cafe, Price; North American Builders, Salt Lake City; and ARID of Midvale.