An increase in violent crime that led police to a series of illegal gaming houses and casinos in north Scarborough, has prompted 42 Division to seek the public’s assistance identifying the unlawful betting locations to prevent further violence.
At a news conference at the Division on October 9, Staff Sergeant Andrew Ecklund said there was a double shooting at a location at Kennedy Rd. & Passmore Ave., a robbery at 141 Montezuma Trail, and assaults and robberies at other illegal gaming locations in the neighbourhood.
In the past few months, officers arrested a man with a Tec-9 semi-automatic pistol and seized a quantity of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana, at the locations.
“We are very concerned for the safety of community members living around the locations and we are also concerned for those people who attend the illegal gaming houses,” said Ecklund. “There is a criminal element that is out there, going to those locations, extorting the people who are running these casinos and gaming houses and robbing the people inside.”
The officer in charge of the Division’s Community Response Unit, Ecklund said there has been an increase in illegal gaming facilities in the area in the last year, particularly in the Midland Ave. & Finch Ave. E. area and the Kennedy Rd. and Passmore Ave. area.
“We initially identified 28 gaming house and five casinos in the Division and, since the beginning of this project, we have shut down three of the casinos and gaming houses,” he said. “The gaming houses have about three gambling tables with usually about 10-15 people inside, while the casinos are large and very well furnished with bars, lounges, massage rooms, nice carpeting and video surveillance above all the tables just like you would find in a real casino. We have often found dealers in these casinos wearing white dress shirts, vests and bow ties like you will find in real casinos. These are not your mom-and-pop operation. These are miniature versions of casinos that can hold up to 10 large tables and several gaming machines.”
Ecklund revealed that his officers have seized enough gaming equipment, including baccarat and mahjong tables and casino-style chips and machines, to fill two large rooms and charged three people with keeping common gaming houses.
The accused are Alexander Ly, 34; Bao Li, 50; and Mei Huang, 43; all of the Greater Toronto Area.
Ecklund said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.
He warned that anyone who is in one of these illegal facilities when police execute search warrants will be arrested.
Most of the illegal gaming houses and casinos are located on commercial property sites.
“We are asking the community to look for retail businesses with bars on the windows or paper covering them, security systems at the front, people hanging around these locations and constant vehicle movement during the day and night,” said Ecklund. “Some of these smaller gaming houses are mobile and are known to move.”
Anyone with information can contact 42 Division at 416-808-4200; Crimestoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.