A sprawling mansion in a high-end neighborhood north of Toronto operated as a “high-end” underground gambling den complete with spa treatments, armed guards, and even a full-cash bar, Canadian authorities revealed Wednesday.
York Regional Police announced that 32 people were arrested after authorities raided the 20,000-square-foot estate in Markham, Ontario over the summer.
“This is organized crime truly exploiting and demonstrating their money, their positions and opulence thinking somehow that they are above the law,” York Deputy Police Chief Brian Bigra told reporters.
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Police said the investigation, dubbed “Project Endgame,” kicked off in May as officials began an investigation into illegal gaming dens and identified underground casinos in the city of Markham.
On July 3, investigators executed a search warrant at a commercial unit in the city that was being run as an illegal gaming house. Gaming tables, slot machines, and more than $20,000 were seized as five people were arrested in the first operation, according to police.
Weeks later, authorities conducted a raid on July 23 at the mansion at 5 Decourcy Ct. in Markham that sits on a two-acre property.
Inside the home, officials said they uncovered a massive gambling operation complete with slot machines and mahjong tables.
Video from York Regional Police shows the inside of the home and arrests being made the day of the raid.
A full cash bar with thousands of bottles of top-shelf liquor was also found at the home, and a banking area, according to police.
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The upstairs of the mansion also appeared to be operating as some sort of bed and breakfast.
Authorities have seized the $9 million mansion, as well as 11 guns — including a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle — along with more than $1 million in cash, gaming machines, and tables, as well as more than $1.5 million in alcohol.
A total of 32 people were arrested at the house during the July 23 raid.
Officials were planning to raid the mansion on July 17 but said Wednesday aerial surveillance of the property showed that children were on the property for some special event and the operation would have been too dangerous, according to CBC News.
After the mansion raid, police said they conducted another operation in Vaughan at a residence of one of the gaming housekeepers.
Three people were arrested in that location and more than $70,000 was seized, “along with various documentary evidence relevant to the illegal gaming operations.”
“While the total value of these seizures is significant, this is only the start of our efforts to dismantle organized crime groups who are operating illegal gaming operations in York Region,” York Police Chief Jim MacSween said in a statement.
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Police said they suspect that drug and sex trafficking was also taking place at the mansion, and their investigation is ongoing.
“This illegal high-stakes gambling also leads to gun violence, armed robberies, kidnappings, extortion and other serious violent offenses within our community,” MacSween said. “We will continue to target organized crime in York Region and use every tool at our disposal, including forensic accounting, to ensure these criminals are held accountable.”
In total, 45 people have been arrested and 33 of them have been charged with more than 70 criminal offenses in connection to illegal gaming activities.