18 police organizations, including the Woodstock Police, teamed up to take down a major illegal gambling enterprise operated by and linked to members of known criminal organizations.
WOODSTOCK - 18 organizations, including the Woodstock Police, teamed up to take down a major illegal gambling enterprise operated by and linked to members of known criminal organizations.
Project Hobart started in January of 2019 after an escalation of violence across Ontario and Quebec. The violence included a spike in attempted murders, arson's, extortion, shootings and assaults. The project targeted the illegal gaming criminal organization controlled by three known members and one 'prospect' of the Hell's Angels outlaw motorcycle gang - specifically Robert Barletta and Craig McIlquham, Eugenio ('Gino') Reda and Raffaele Simonelli. During the course of the investigation, a known member of Hell's Angels and a member of this illegal gaming criminal organization - Michael Deabaitua Schulde was murdered in March of 2019 as he left a gym he frequented in Peel Region.
The broader investigation and active take downs last week involved members of OPP Criminal Investigation Branch, Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Biker Enforcement Unit, the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, the RCMP, London Police Service, Niagara Regional Police, Halton Regional Police, Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Sault Ste. Marie Police, Barrie Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Stratford Police Service, Woodstock Police Service, the Sûreté du Québec and FINTRAC - the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
The investigation revealed the three men were leading five sophisticated illegal gaming websites out of a land based gaming house in Mississauga. The web site names are Ultimate SB, Titan SB, PlaytoWin SB, Privada SB and Players SB. In terms of revenue, from January 1, 2019 to the beginning of July 2019, the sportsbook associated to Hell's Angels brought in approximately $13-million in gaming revenue.
The sportsbook's have been in operation for at least five years and brought in a total of $131 million dollars illegally. Police linked the operators of this illegal gaming organization to the Figliomeni Crime Family.
During the search warrants executed last week, police seized or restrained:
- Seven residences and two vacation properties valued at just over $8.1-million;
- Financial accounts holding a total of more than $1.2-million;
- 18 vehicles; including luxury and vintage automobiles, three Harley Davidson motorcycles, two snowmobiles and two golf carts;
- More than $1.7 million in cash;
- Multiple gold and silver coins and bars valued at $320,000;
- Many high-end luxury watches and jewelry valued at $303,000;
- A total of 21 firearms, including nine illegal handguns, six rifles, three shotguns and three other handguns;
- Hells Angels motorcycle gang 'colours';
- Two conducted energy weapons; and,
- Several ballistic vests.
As a result of this ongoing investigation, police have charged 28 people with 228 offences contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada, the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and the Income Tax Act including Commission of Offences for a Criminal Organization, Bookmaking, Firearms, Proceeds of Crime, Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Fraud against the Government and one person for Breach of Trust. The Fraud offence also pertains to income tax evasion. The Canada Revenue Agency is an investigative partner.
The majority of the accused have already appeared or are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Brampton over the next four weeks. None of the people arrested are from Woodstock or Oxford County, however four of the men are from London.
Woodstock Police Chief Daryl Longworth was at the press conference today and issued this message via twitter.
Representing Woodstock Police at today's media conference in Orillia and the continued, coordinated effort towards fighting organized crime in Ontario. Thank you to the Woodstock officers involved for your commitment to this investigation and to keeping our communities safe. pic.twitter.com/pBAySXqE3m— Chief (@DarylLongworth) December 19, 2019
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