Million-Dollar Home in Shaughnessy Raided Over Illegal Gambling in Canada
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided a house in the upscale Shaughnessy area of Vancouver. The raid was part of a continuing crackdown in Canada over money laundering with ties to gambling and organized crime. It is alleged the ring has laundered millions of dollars in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. The ongoing investigation has netted millions of dollars and arrests of people all over Canada.
Money Laundering in Canada
The RCMP dubbed the probe the “Collector” investigation. The agency believes the network has collected and laundered money through gambling and other enterprises. The RCMP noted the majority of the money laundered through this ring is from criminal groups in the Montreal area. The Collector probe is part of an overall investigation into money laundering throughout Canada.
Canada has already seen several noteworthy busts. Most recently, there were arrests of Asian gang members for money laundering at a casino in Vancouver. The criminal gangs filtered around $1 billion a year through British Columbia casinos.
The Collector Probe
The initial Collector investigation focused on money laundering in Canada, especially through casinos. However, the RCMP found at least six different criminal groups used the Collector services. The main focus for the RCMP was to track the money laundering efforts throughout Canada. The network used connections in many different countries, including Lebanon, the UAE, the U.S., China, and Iran, to launder money. Casinos in other countries laundered some of the money. Then, members of the gang returned the “cleaned” money to Canada via Colombia and Mexico. The RCMP believed much of the money came from the drug sales and from crimes committed in Canada.
Earlier this month, hundreds of RCMP officers raided homes in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, including the house in Shaughnessy. The officers seized drugs, cash, deposits in bank accounts, and property worth nearly $33 million. They charged those who were arrested with money laundering and gangsterism. The RCMP hopes that by cutting off the money supply, the gangs will not have the funds to operate.
The investigation began two years ago when the RCMP received a tip from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA said through its own money laundering investigations, it had witnessed hundreds of money laundering exchanges. Some were at casinos and some were in parking lots. The bags contained money that was worth between $250,000 to $500,000. Generally, the suspects stuffed the money into travel bags or suitcases for the exchange. Both agencies believe hundreds of millions of dollars moved from place to place without ever leaving North America. Because the gang did not launder money through a bank, there was no record of the transactions. These unofficial transfers make the amounts of money very difficult to track, which is what the criminals want.
The Scope of Money Laundering
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimated that criminals launder as much as $15 billion in Canada every year. Criminals launder a substantial portion of that money in casinos throughout the nation and online. The International Monetary Fund believes the amount of money laundered in Canada is much larger. In fact, the IMF believes that as much as $100 billion in illegal funds moves through the country each year.
The Canadian government said that criminals are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. They are using lawyers and accountants to create phony companies and multiply them across several areas of the country. They hide the ownership of the shell companies as much as possible.
The investigation into the money laundering is not over. The RCMP is continuing to investigate instances of money laundering across the country. The agency wants to see if it can find more parts of the organization. Or, perhaps, it will find another one somewhere else.
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