Charges laid after alleged Vancouver gambling den busted

When Vancouver police arrived at the split-level home on a quiet Vancouver street, they ‘observed multiple people fleeing the residence.’

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Three Lower Mainland men have been charged in connection with an illegal gambling den raided by police in October 2020.

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The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit announced Wednesday that charges had been approved against Burnaby residents Rong Zan Wu, 45, and Wen Bo Li, 47, and Vancouver man Mun Bun Ng, 55.

CFSEU ​​alleges the three were managers of the Vancouver gambling den in a house at 239 West 45 Ave. All three were earlier named in a lawsuit filed by the director of civil forfeiture seeking to keep more than $200,000 seized by police during the investigation.

They are due to make their first appearance in Vancouver provincial court on April 21.

Vancouver police first went to the house on Oct. 12 after receiving “a complaint of a threat involving a firearm following a gambling incident at a residence,” the civil forfeiture lawsuit said.

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The CFSEU’s illegal gambling unit was called in and did several searches in the case, Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said Wednesday.

She said investigators seized score sheets with client names and cash balances, cellphones, a money counter and more than $220,000 in Canadian cash. There were also poker chips, poker tables and playing cards.

“CFSEU-BC continues to target all aspects of criminal activities including illegal gaming as a part of a co-ordinated organized crime enforcement strategy in BC” Insp. Mandeep Mooker said in a statement. “Illegal gaming activities undermine the integrity of our financial institutions and allow criminals to secure the proceeds of crime not just for personal benefit but to fuel additional crimes. Enforcement action such as this one has a strong immediate impact and long-term disruption implications.”

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According to the civil forfeiture statement of claim, when Vancouver police arrived at the split-level home on a quiet Vancouver street, they “observed multiple people fleeing the residence.”

Officers detained people and conducted searches. People were carrying cash amounts ranging from a high of $75,020 to a low of $355, the lawsuit said.

“The VPD cleared the residence and, in the process, observed the following — three rooms with gaming tables and camera-video monitoring (one of the rooms was labeled ‘VIP’); a room with a video-surveillance system monitoring the interior and exterior of the residence; a bedroom had been converted into a dedicated storage room for playing cards; and it didn’t appear as though anyone was living in the residence.”

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When CFSEU ​​officers searched the house two days later, they found a shopping bag containing almost $93,000 — some in smaller bundles labeled with first names and believed to be “buy-in money.”

In January, one of the others named in the suit — Jia Min Cao — filed a response in BC Supreme Court, saying Cao is the rightful owner of $75,020 seized by police. Cao “denies involvement in any unlawful activity, including criminal activity past or present, as alleged or at all.”

Cao also said that VPD officers violated their Charter rights with an “unlawful search-and-seizure.”

No other statements of defense have been filed.

According to land title records, the house is owned by a BC company called Yanjiang Investments Ltd., which purchased the property in November 2018 for $3 million.

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