NEW YORK – Approximately three dozen men and women were arrested Wednesday for allegedly conducting illegal betting via the Dominican National Lottery, aka Lotería Electrónica Internacional Dominicana S.A. These arrests come as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the Rockland County Intelligence Center (RCIC).
Police officers and special agents arrested 32 individuals for the alleged illegal gambling operations located in no fewer than 18 small businesses in the villages of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw. The operations took in thousands of dollars in wagers over a four-month period.
Nine search warrants were simultaneously executed by nearly 100 law enforcement officers. An additional nine search warrants were executed during a separate sweep March 14. More than $130 thousand in cash and evidence of illegal gambling operations involving the Dominican National Lottery was seized during the operations. In addition, numerous computers and gambling receipts were seized from the locations.
The defendants were arrested on charges of promoting gambling, possession of gambling records, criminal usury, grand larceny and conspiracy. If convicted, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison.
As per the investigation, between November 2011 and March 2012, the defendants were observed aiding and abetting, and acting in concert with each other and others in several storefronts, intentionally conducting and participating in a pattern of criminal activity.
More than 50 illegal "Pale" bets were placed during the course of the investigation at each of the businesses. Undercover officers made or observed more than 100 illegal bets in various locations, including Guzman's Grocery, Beautiful Ladies Salon and Bandera Mini Mart in the Village of Haverstraw.
The Dominican National Lottery is similar to the New York Lottery's Pick 3 game. If the player hits the three numbers picked in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the player could win up to $600 on a $1 investment.
Several of those arrested in "Operation Big Splash" were previously charged in an earlier crackdown on illegal Dominican National Lottery betting, dubbed "Operation Quick Splash" in February 2011.
HSI is part of the RCIC, which is comprised of several law enforcement agencies brought together to provide intelligence to law enforcement based upon the collection, evaluation and analysis of information that can identify criminal activity.