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Authorities Looking To Seize Chinatown Building Allegedly Used As Illegal Gambling Facility

(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Authorities are seeking the civil forfeiture of a building in Chinatown that prosecutors said was being used in connection with an alleged multi-million dollar gambling ring.

Nearly half of the six-story building at 35-37 East Broadway was being used for illegal gambling, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

On Monday, officers from five different agencies, including the NYPD, Department of Homeland Security, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, raided the building. At the same time, the feds raided an operation a few blocks away at 93 Henry St., CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reported.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

James T. Hayes, the Special Agent-In-Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York Office, said the alleged Henry Street operation was in place because the East Broadway building had gotten so crowded, with gambling profits going to Asian organized crime gangs.

“We saw that the premises and the casino operation was protected by armed gang members. And so for us, that’s a tremendous concern, especially in such an area that sees such heavy pedestrian traffic,” Hayes said.

Meanwhile, federal authorities said in addition to an illegal casino, parts of the East Broadway building were being used for prostitution, trademark counterfeiting and an unlicensed medical center.

In all, 11 suspects were arrested and nearly $163,000, plus gambling tables and other materials were seized, Bharara said.

Those at the building Tuesday told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider that there were slot machines inside, but insisted they were used only for fun and winnings were donated to other members of their organization.

“There’s no gambling,” said translator Hanji Lin. “They just play for fun.”

Authorities said Monday’s raid was the result of an investigation that began last July when the NYPD raided the 6th floor and seized $210,000.

Police arrested 11 people then and authorities said the building has been on police radar ever since.

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