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September 30, 2014

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Illegal World Cup betting operation run out of hotel rooms, complaint alleges

The FBI has busted an illegal sports book run out of Caesars Palace hotel rooms by a group of Asian nationals who allegedly took in millions of dollars in bets on the World Cup, according to a criminal complaint announced Monday.

In collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the FBI arrested seven people allegedly connected to the illegal sports book, including Wei Seng Phua, who the FBI has characterized as a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad mob in China. 14K Triad has been accused of drug and arms trafficking, prostitution, extortion and a number of other crimes.

The criminal complaint released Monday claims the group used computers in their high-end hotel rooms to remotely control an illegal gambling business overseas. On June 18, Phua was among more than 20 people arrested in Macau for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation that took bets on the World Cup.

Caesars alerted law enforcement to the possibility of the illegal operation and is not being investigated for wrongdoing.

Law enforcement agents worked undercover for a month to monitor the activity in the hotel rooms. Federal search warrants were carried out on July 9, allowing agents to recover gambling records and computer equipment, according to the complaint.

In addition to Phua, the other six defendants are Darren Wai Kit Phua, 22, Seng Chen Yong, 56, and Wai Kin Yong, 22, all of Malaysia; Hui Tang, 44, of China; and Yan Zhang, 40, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, all of Hong Kong.

Each defendant has been charged with one count of unlawful transmission of wagering information, for which they could face up to two years in prison, and one count of operating an illegal gambling business, for which they could face up to five years in prison.

They each also face up to $250,000 in fines for each count.

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