According to the court document, when police arrived at the split-level house on a quiet Vancouver street, they ‘observed several people fleeing the residence’

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More than a year after police seized more than $200,000 in connection with suspected illegal gambling at a Vancouver home, no criminal charges have been laid.

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But the BC government wants the money – $127,174.45 taken from individuals at the home and another $92,860 found inside – confiscated from the public treasury as proceeds of crime .

Details of the investigation, involving both Vancouver police and the Combined Forces Special Law Enforcement Unit (CFSEU), are contained in the statement filed late last year.

The VPD went to the house at 239 West 45th Ave. on Oct. 12, 2020, after receiving “a threat complaint involving a firearm following a gambling incident at a residence,” the court document states.

Once police arrived at the duplex on a quiet residential street, they “observed several people fleeing the residence.” The officers “detained and conducted searches incidental to the detention for investigative purposes.” The people were carrying cash ranging from a high of $75,020 to a low of $355, according to the lawsuit.

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“The VPD cleaned the residence and in doing so observed the following – three rooms with gaming tables and camera/video surveillance (one of the rooms was labeled “VIP”); a room with a video surveillance system monitoring the interior and exterior of the residence; one bedroom had been turned into a dedicated storage room for playing cards; and it didn’t look like anyone was living in the residence.

UMECO was called in to investigate, obtaining a warrant to search the house on October 14, 2020. Anti-gang force officers found a shopping bag containing nearly $93,000 – some in smaller packages labeled with first names and assumed to be “redemption money.”

In addition to gambling-related material, police found “numerous documents…including documents with timetables, food menus, pay slips and hours of operation; signs with house rules taped to the wall; a Michael Kors bag containing a record of transactions, including sale, collection and debt.

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The Director of Civil Forfeiture appointed three defendants – Rong Zan Wu, Wen Bo Li and Mun Bun Ng – as managers of the gambling den.

Earlier this month, one of the other people named in the lawsuit – Jia Min Cao – filed a response in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, claiming that Cao is the rightful owner of the $75,020 seized by the police. Cao “denies involvement in any illegal activity, including past or present criminal activity, as alleged or at all.”

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

No other statement of defense has yet been filed.

According to land title records, the home is owned by a British Columbia company called Yanjiang Investments Ltd., which bought the property in November for $3 million. Neither of the two directors of the company – whose address is six blocks away on West 45th Avenue – have been named in the civil suit.

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As for the criminal investigation, UMECO Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said the results of the investigation have been sent to the BC Prosecution Service for review. Service spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in a statement that “a report to Crown counsel has been received regarding the investigation of an alleged illegal gambling site at a Vancouver home for the assessment of charges. ” and that the case remains “under evaluation”.

Other recent Lower Mainland investigations into illegal gambling haven’t gone far.

In November 2020, Francisco Pires of the Hells Angels and three associates were charged with being “found in a joint gambling or betting house” after a UMECO investigation into alleged illegal gambling at Pires’ Big Shots Cafe on Hastings Street in Burnaby. But the charges were stayed in October 2021.

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McLaughlin said “the decision to stay the charges was made after further information was received by the prosecutor regarding the conduct of the case. After reviewing this information and the rest of the exhibits in the case, the prosecutor concluded that the charge approval standard could no longer be met. In these circumstances, a stay of proceedings is the appropriate course of action. »

And in the most high-profile investigation into illegal gambling, suspected money launderer Paul King Jin was arrested in June 2017 and later released without charge. The case, dubbed E-Nationalize, has been referred to Crown prosecutors for review, but no decision on the charges has yet been announced.

Asked about E-Nationalize this week, McLaughlin simply replied “there is nothing to report publicly at this time.”

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