Australian casino news sees the crime theme continue with this report that a major Aussie - Chinatown criminal syndicate has been busted. Casino chips, drugs, guns... you name it. Crown Casino has been attracting colourful and worldwide headlines of late, and this latest turn of events is no exception. Media Man and Gambling911 call on the sniffer dogs. Something fishy in Chinatown and in Crown's VIP mahogany room. Pink Panther, Naked Gun and Heist to the scene...
A Crown Casino VIP high roller and a Chinatown restaurateur personality are accused of heading up a Melbourne crime syndicate targeted by police over the past 48 hours in a series of explosive raids, arrests and record-breaking asset seizures.
The alleged crime bosses of the multi-million dollar Melbourne drug ring that spent massive sums on property, gambling and overseas interests are set to appear in court after overnight out-of-sessions hearing.
Crown Casino high roller Thi Nho Le and husband Thanh Hai Pham, both 46, spent the night in police cells with 6 other alleged members of the syndicate.
Police allege it trafficked more than 30 kilograms of heroin in Melbourne and earned over $20 million in the past 9 months.
Named and known as the Le Syndicate after the family that allegedly controls it, Ms Le's younger sister Thi Nho Em Le, her brother and their partners all faced a court hearing at St Kilda Road police complex early yesterday morning.
Thi Nho Em Le's partner, businessman and restaurateur Kai Sin Mong, is also alleged to be a key player in the syndicate that police state has built a business empire including a Chinatown restaurant and a western-suburbs based petrol station.
The group is accused of manufacturing and distributing large amounts of heroin, from locations including a flat in Napier Street, Fitzroy, laundering money and loaning money to other drug cartels and gamblers.
Detective Acting Sergeant James Cole told the court that members did business at James Packers' Crown Casino's high-roller Mahogany Room, purchased a number of properties and businesses to conceal the proceeds of crime and sent money offshore to Vietnam, including a recent whopping $920,000 money transfer.
This was allegedly used to create a multi-million dollar property portfolio, which may have been kicked along by plans to purchase a United States $2.5 million hotel.
The mob aka triad were among 21 people arrested in a series of raids at properties in Melbourne's western and inner-northern suburbs, including Fitzroy commission flats, after a painstaking 10-month investigation.
The Australian Crime Commission and Victoria Police operation, code-named Sethra, seized an estimated $3 million of heroin and about $20 million in houses and assets - a Victorian record.
All 8 accused, speaking through a Vietnamese interpreter during the out-of-sessions hearing, applied for bail, with most advising they had to care for their children or grandchildren.
Each alleged syndicate member, ages from 32 to 60, was deemed an unacceptable flight risk to say the least.
The court heard that the alleged drug ring operated partly out of the Napier Street commission flats, with Thi Nho Em Le, her brother Muoi Van Le and their partners sharing an apartment.
Detective Acting Sergeant Cole told the hearing that covert surveillance detected people regularly going there to purchase heroin.
One of the accused, Kim Thi Huynh, who lived in a nearby flat, allegedly used a minor (human - not bird breed) to pick up heroin that she then sold to street dealers.
Police allegedly recovered a modest $21,000 from the Le residence in Napier Street in yesterday's raids.
They also are understood to have located $345,970 in cash, $54,500 in Crown Casino chips and 350 grams of heroin.
A raid earlier this month on a Carlton flat linked to the syndicate allegedly netted police around $595,000 in cash, $50,000 in Crown Casino chips and 1.66 kilograms of heroin.
This allegedly prompted Thi Nho Le and her sister to discuss selling the property without ever returning there, in a conversation captured on phone intercepts and relayed to the court.
Thi Nho Le and Thanh Hai Pham, of Keilor Downs, and Thi Nho Em Le, Kai Sin Mong, Muoi Van Le and Nea Thi Pham, of Fitzroy, all face charges relating to trafficking large commercial quantities of a "drug of dependence".
Houng Vo, of Fitzroy, faces one charge of trafficking a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence while Kim Thi Huynh faces a similar charge along with trafficking a drug of dependence to a child.
They will face Melbourne Magistrates Court, along with four other alleged members of the organisation who were charged with drug related offences in and bailed in.
The syndicate is 1 of many connected multimillion-dollar crime cells targeted by the ACC and police agencies in Melbourne and Sydney in the 7. It's understood only a small amount of these crime fun and and games were covered in Network Nine hit 'Underbelly', next season tipped to cover Brisbane as well as the Gold Coast.
ACC national manager Richard Grant alleged that "this is a group that, not that long ago, we seized 5 blocks of heroin and $645,000 cash and this group didn't miss a heartbeat".
Victoria Police sources advised the operation was successful due to the powers and reach of the small but powerful ACC, which targets Australia's most senior crime figures.
The $40 million in assets expected to be seized in Operation Sethra equates to almost half the ACC's yearly budget! Go the bean counters.
The operation flowed from an earlier ACC inquiry into the movement of suspected drug money offshore via money remitters, international airline staff and bank transfers.
The 2005 inquiry, code-named Gordian-Katakan, confirmed that the majority of illicit drug shipments enter down under Australia undetected and are then distributed for massive profits, often sent offshore. The inquiry uncovered more than a dozen drug-trafficking cells operating down the east coast, netting hundreds of millions of dollars.
Victoria Police Detective Inspector Doug Potter said further arrests would be made.
"The syndicate that has been operating in Melbourne has international links and we will be following up a number of inquiries in regards to those links."
Crown Casino powers that be have been cooperating with Police and the crime syndicate arrests are music to the ears of Crown. The Mahogany Room will not miss the alleged triad element.
A leak advised, "Crown loves their whales and high rolling VIPs, but not those engaged in criminal enterprises. Crown is focused on a total entertainment experience and undesirables are not welcome. It's been out pleasure to assist Australian and international law enforcement agencies".
Crown Casino is considering if they should upgrade their casino chips policy and procedures.
The Late News...
Crown Casino (and Burswood Entertainment Complex in WA) budgets to further open up, partly in response to aggressive moves and counter strike by Australia's other gaming giant, Tabcorp. Crown Casino is playing its cards right with Australian government powers that be. Crown Casino security is frequently reviewed and a repeat case of a client's Ferrari been nicked has odds of about 1 in a million, so the Crown bar talk says. Crown is aware that Aussie punters would like to see an online and / or offline Kerry Packer, 'Underbelly', and Mark Webber - Red Bull themed slot game. PartyGaming NextGen Gaming and IGT online games are on the radar of Crown Limited. PartyPoker b2b online poker satellite qualifiers likely to start again circa November 2010, ready for January 2011 'Aussie Millions'. PartyGaming is tipped to give away more Aston Martin's and Maserati's following the PartyCasino 'Grand Win Auto' and PartyPoker 'Drive The Dream' promotions, but Media Man and others reckon Party should get a deal in place with Ferrari pronto.
Media Man Profiles
Readers, do you think Crown Casino should ride off the publicity and get an Underbelly or Kerry Packer themed slot game? What's your predication for the next colourful crime to happen at an Australian land based casino? Should online casinos like PartyCasino, PKR Casino and Virgin Casino plug more into the casino crime connection? Tell us in the forum or jump on Twitter and see if you can create your own version of Twitter-Gate.
Crown Casino Connection Colourful Crimes...
'Crown Casino Client Ferrari Stolen With Virgin Valet'
Background on the Crown Casino shaft man case...
'Crown Casino Shaft Man Probed and Charged'
Readers, know the odds, bet with your head, not over it, and have fun. Don't mix your passion for casinos and gaming with crime, and don't do anything we wouldn't do.
*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming.
*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited
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