Illegal gambling operation raided in Southern California, cash seized

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Posted: August 13, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

Last update on: August 13, 2022, 05:47h.

Around 40 people have been arrested following a raid this week at an allegedly illegal casino in Ponoma, California. Two firearms and possible illegal narcotics were seized, and money was also confiscated.

illegal gambling operation in Ponoma, Calf.
The approximately 40 people detained outside an illegal gambling operation in Ponoma, California, pictured above. The site was raided this week. (Image: KABC)

Those detained were released and have not been charged or cited after Thursday’s raid, the official said. Los Angeles Times reported. As part of the gambling operation, police arrested a man in Chico, California. He also had a warrant pending for his arrest in connection with an earlier robbery, police said.

Police added that a “large sum” of money was seized from the illegal gambling site, KABC, a local television station, reported. Eight gaming tables were also located, police said. The drugs included a quarter pound of suspected methamphetamine (methamphetamine), the Time reported, citing law enforcement sources.

Local cops have launched an investigation into the gambling operation, located in a shopping mall, after receiving complaints from residents and anonymous tips. A judge reviewed their case and approved the search of the Indian Hill Boulevard property.

Ponoma cops and 18 members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Community Violence Reduction Team took part in the raid.

Ponoma is located approximately 30 miles east of Los Angeles. Earlier game raids have taken place elsewhere in Southern California.

Santa Ana Raids

For example, in May, California authorities dismantled several illegal gambling dens in Santa Ana as part of a thorough investigation. The suspects now face charges in connection with the raids.

A total of nine suspects have been apprehended or are still wanted on charges of gambling or related crimes, such as extortion and drug trafficking, federal authorities said in May.

Gambling joints generated thousands of dollars in profits every day, federal authorities claim. Many gaming devices were seized.

The suspects, who reside in California, include Niem Ngoc Ha, also known as “Dung Body”, 46, of Fountain Valley. He is said to have opened and operated four illegal casinos. Mindy Bui, also known as ‘Thuy’, 36, from Westminster, is said to have run the illegal sites. Honganh Thi Pham, also known as “Hong”, 40, of Garden Grove, also ran the casinos, authorities said.

As of May, authorities were still looking for two other suspects. One is Sammy Cardona, also known as “Peanut”, 36, of Santa Ana. He allegedly used “violence to protect defendant Ha’s illicit casinos,” according to a federal indictment.

Ha was also charged with corruption. He reportedly paid $128,000 to now convicted former Santa Ana police officer Steven Lopez.

Santa Ana is 34 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Moratorium on new card rooms

Most types of casinos are illegal in California. Tribal casinos on Native American reservations are permitted in the state.

Licensed amusement arcades are also permitted. Last year there were 86 amusement arcade licenses in California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Often they have poker games.

A current moratorium on more arcades expires in 2023, the report adds.

Hustler Casino Robbery

The state’s gambling halls were the scene of other crimes. For example, at a gambling hall, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino, an armored truck guard was shot and injured in a brazen robbery Aug. 4 outside the venue, located in Gardena, California.

He was in critical condition at a local hospital but was expected to survive, local TV stations reported. A second guard was less seriously injured.

The guards were attacked by a barrage of gunfire as they exited the truck, Gardena Police Lt. Christopher Cuff said, calling it an “ambush”. At least two thieves grabbed an unknown amount of cash and fled the area, police first said.

Gardena is 22 km south of Los Angeles.

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