William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Baltimore returned the funds to Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold; Colonel James Teare, Sr., Chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; and Captain Randy Jones, Commander of the Special Enforcement Division, Anne Arundel County Police Department.
"My office has an outstanding working relationship with the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and we continue to work hand in hand to share intelligence and work toward dismantling criminal activity here in Maryland," said Special Agent in Charge William Winter. "I am pleased to share the forfeited proceeds of an illicit enterprise with the Anne Arundel County Police Department for their work in this investigation. I look forward to continuing to work with the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and our other law enforcement partners throughout Maryland, to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that impact the state. By working together, we are making a big impact."
"Anne Arundel County has been a leader in showing that local government and local law enforcement can provide crucial assistance in federal law enforcement activities that impact our community," said County Executive John R. Leopold. "We are a proud of our partnership, which has led to meaningful arrests in cases involving illegal immigration, human trafficking, narcotics and gambling."
"Our strong partnership and excellent working relationship with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), allows the Anne Arundel County Police Department to conduct and participate in far-reaching, complex, criminal investigations," said Chief of Police Colonel James Teare, Sr. "Working with our federal, state and local partners utilizes resources that make Anne Arundel County a safer place to live and visit."
On April 26, 2011, a federal grand jury in Baltimore returned indictments charging two gambling businesses and three defendants with conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering. These indictments were unsealed on May 23, 2011. Also, on May 23, seizure warrants were issued for 11 bank accounts located in Charlotte, N.C.; Guam; Panama; Malta; Portugal; and the Netherlands; and domain names associated with 10 Internet gambling sites.
Internet gambling operators rely upon the U.S. banking system, and more specifically, money-processing business generally called "payment processors," to facilitate the movement of funds to and from their customers, the gamblers. Typically, an Internet gambling operator directs the payment processor to collect funds from individual gamblers which are used to wager with the gambling organization. Those gambling proceeds are transferred to an offshore foreign bank. The Internet gambling operator then sends a check or wire transfer from an offshore bank to the payment processor, directing the payment processor to distribute the money to gamblers for their winnings.
ICE HSI in Baltimore opened an undercover payment processor business, called Linwood Payment Solutions. Linwood allowed undercover agents to gain person-to-person contact with top managers of gambling organizations to discuss the Internet gambling business, to negotiate contracts and terms of the processing, and to handle the intricate movement and processing of collection and payment data from the gambling organizations to the banks. Linwood processed gambling transactions since 2009 for gambling organizations using banks located in Guam and Charlotte, North Carolina. Between December 2009 and January 2011, Linwood processed over 300,000 transactions worth more than $33 million, including transactions for individuals in Maryland.
It is illegal for Internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located. Additionally, the proceeds from illegal Internet gambling are often used to fuel organized crime and support criminal activity. The indictments and affidavit seek the forfeiture of the bank accounts used to process the gambling transactions, as well as domain names of websites used by the defendants to further the online gambling transactions.
Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool used by ICE HSI and other law enforcement agencies to seize assets used by criminal organizations in their illicit enterprises or acquired through criminal activity. Under the equitable sharing program, federal, state and local law enforcement partners and foreign governments that work with ICE HSI in joint investigations can be eligible to receive a portion of the proceeds of a federal forfeiture.
The ICE HSI Asset Forfeiture/Equitable Sharing program is one of many ways law enforcement agencies can partner with ICE HSI to address law enforcement needs in their communities. ICE HSI Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security, or ACCESS, provides local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to team with ICE HSI to combat specific challenges in their communities.
In addition to ICE HSI and the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Maryland State Police assisted in the investigation.
For more information on this case, please visit the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland website at www.justice.gov/usao/md.