Law enforcement officers have cracked what they say is the largest gambling ring in the state's history.
The ring stretched across four counties, involved perhaps thousands of bettors and millions of dollars. More than 100 officers participated in raids on 15 homes, restaurants and businesses in Salt Lake, Weber, Utah and Carbon counties Tuesday that were involved in the ring.American Fork Police Chief John Durrant said officers in his city began investigating what they thought was a minor betting operation nine months ago. The investigation focused on an individual working at a restaurant in American Fork.
The officers discussed their investigation with Salt Lake officers while attending a workshop on procedures for forfeiting property. During the conversation the officers realized both agencies were investigating some of the same individuals, Durrant said. That led to the multi-agency investigation that culminated in Tuesday's raids.
"A good antidote for white-collar crime is blue-collar law enforcement," Durrant said. "Another antidote is teamwork. We combined those two things to culminate in a great case."
The individual who was originally the focus of American Fork's investigation went to work for Lee's Restaurant in Pleasant Grove when his former place of employment folded about a month ago.
In addition to Lee's Restaurant, the probe involved: 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.
"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 during a press conference.
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.
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 operated for as long as five years, Kennard said.
No arrests have yet been made, although between 20 and 25 people will probably be charged with federal crimes in connection with the case.
Agencies involved in the investigation included the Internal Revenue Service, 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.