Police authorities in the Canadian province of Ontario have closed down a crime group that had set up a variety of illegal online betting sites.
In a statement to the public, Chief Superintendent Paul Beesley, Commissioner Thomas Carrique and Stephane Bonin from the Canada Revenue Agency confirmed the details of the operation. The investigation, known as Project HOBART, involved cooperation between various police teams, and led to raids on more than 50 venues in the south of Ontario and in Quebec.
The raids were the final stage of the investigation that took nearly two years. As a result, there have been 228 charges made against 28 individuals, including a number of members of the Hells Angels and one civil servant. Among the charges are Money Laundering, Commission of Offences for a Criminal Organization and Fraud.
As well as the arrests, police seized over $12 million worth of assets including cars, property, jewellery worth $300,000, firearms and around $1.7 million in cash.
The illegal internet betting component was run by a trio of Hells Angels who had links with organized crime via the Figliomeni family. According to police, the struggle over control of the illegal betting business produced a spate of violent crime including a number of shootings. It is estimated that the illegal gaming market had earned as much as $131 million over a five-year period.
Speaking about the action and the investigation, Carrique said that it was the result of hard work and co-operation and that it had made the community safer:
“Cooperation among the professionals from many law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions is paramount to the continued success of our various undertakings. Project HOBART demonstrates the dedication and teamwork required to keep our communities safe. I am very proud of the investigative diligence and cooperation displayed by all of our partners to bring this aspect of the investigation to a conclusion.”