NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police say they have arrested 32 people on Friday morning and busted an illegal gambling house that doubled as a heroin and cocaine distribution hub in the East Village.

Police said a narcotics investigation led them to a network of people running the operation from four states: New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia and Florida.

The indictment charges a total of 20 defendants, 18 of whom were arrested in New York starting at 1 a.m. A dozen other individuals arrested in other states share in facing a range of conspiracy, promoting gambling, money laundering and criminal possession of narcotics charges.

The police indictment identifies David Diaz, 52, as the alleged head of both the narcotics distribution network and the gambling operation, which included the Poker House located on the Avenue of the Americas between 10th and 11st Street, and an online gambling business.

Search warrants executed this morning also recovered $125,000 in cash, multiple money counters, gambling records, thousands of poker chips and two vehicles, as well as a handgun, a shotgun and an air rifle.

Police also said they recovered cocaine, heroin, marijuana and Xanax pills.

Investigators said undercover officers managed to get seats at the West Village gambling house and participated in poker games with the “regular clientele,” as well as purchasing drugs from the group.

Police described The Poker House as running from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. with two floors hosting 30 players at a time. Entry into the gambling games required vetting by a woman based in Atlanta who also oversaw an online poker business. She would text approval for individuals in order to participate at the East Village operation.

Players at lower stakes tables on the first floor were required to purchase a minimum of $200 in chips, while higher stakes players upstairs were required to purchase $500 in chips.

“Each game lasted two hours, enabling tens of thousands of dollars to change hands in a single night,” police said in a statement.

Police said proceeds of the illegal gambling operation were used to fund further narcotics trafficking.


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