Teams of FBI agents are making arrests and executing federal search warrants throughout New York City, the metro area and elsewhere in the United States in connection with an extensive illegal gambling ring operated by Russian organized crime, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York the investigation by the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Squad revealed high-stakes poker dens and large volume off-shore sports wagering operations were being operated as part of the illegal gambling activity.
Sources say the poker dens were often frequented by high-profile New Yorkers from the business, sports and entertainment fields. Members of the organization allegedly used threats of violence to collect unpaid gambling debts, according to the indictment.
The organization's members used a sophisticated money-laundering scheme to move tens of millions of dollars of gambling proceeds from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and shell companies in the U.S., the indictment alleges.
Thirty-four people have been charged in connection with the illegal activity. The three leaders of the illegal gambling ring are based in New York City, Kiev and Moscow, according to the indictment. Most members and associates were born in the former Soviet Union and many maintain ties to the Ukraine and the Russian Federation.