International sports betting operation busted in Las Vegas - 8 News NOW

International sports betting operation busted in Las Vegas

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Wei Seng Phua Wei Seng Phua

LAS VEGAS -- Several men and one woman are in custody charged with running an illegal betting ring out of several high-end hotel suites in Las Vegas.

The suspects, foreign nationals from Asia, made their first court appearances in federal court Monday afternoon. Wei Seng Phua, 50, Darren Wai Kit Phua, 22, Seng Chen Yong, 56, Wai Kin Yong, 22, all of Malaysia and Hui Tang, 44, of China. Yan Zhang, 40, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, all of Hong Kong face charges of operating an illegal gambling business and the unlawful transmission of wagering information concerning the World Cup.

The arrests were part of a joint operation by the FBI, Homeland Security and Nevada Gaming Control agents.

The suspects were allegedly operating the betting ring out of Caesars Palace, though the hotel and its employees was not involved in the scheme. A raid was carried out in the hotel suites last Wednesday and arrests followed on Sunday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint, Wei Seng Phua is known by law enforcement to be a high ranking member of 14K, an Asian organized crime group. He arrived in Las Vegas on June 23. Three villas were reserved earlier in the month at the request of Phua or his associates. The complaint alleges Phua and two of his associates requested the casino install an unusually large amount of electronics equipment. The casino was concerned by the request and thought it might be associated to an illegal gambling operation.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board determined the defendants were monitoring the World Cup. The defendants were allegedly controlling computers based overseas which allowed them to operate their illegal gaming business from Las Vegas.

The local arrests are part of a large global crackdown. Officials estimate that more than half of the world's illegal sports bets are placed in Asia.

During Monday's hearing, the judge set bail for Wei Seng Phua at $2 million. He is putting up his Gulfstream jet as collateral. Mr. Phua had also been arrested last month in Macau, according to prosecutors. Then he flew to Las Vegas in his private jet.

 

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