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Toronto-area raids target illegal gaming, ‘ring leader’ out of the country: police

Toronto-area police raids targeting illegal gaming have led to multiple arrests, but the alleged “ring leader” is believed to be out of the country, officers say.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Friday that a series of raids conducted from March 28 to 30 “have culminated in the dismantling of an illegal gaming and book-making network operating within the GTA.”

“The results of the coordinated enforcement effort have led to charges against persons linked to an alleged criminal organization, including former Hell’s Angels member Paris Christoforou,” the RCMP said.

A specialized unit comprised of investigators from multiple police services conducted the two-year investigation.

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Police said it’ll have a “major impact” in disrupting criminal gaming operations, and led to the dismantling of alleged gaming house operations in east Toronto and an illegal online sports betting network operated by the group.

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“In addition to leaders of the group, those facing charges include the owner/operators of restaurants, bars, and properties where gaming machines were being kept and used,” the RCMP said.

Officers executed search warrants in Toronto and Vaughan that included five alleged gaming houses, eight homes, two businesses, and safety deposit boxes at two bank branches, the RCMP said.

Illegal gaming devices, electronics, “documentary evidence,” jewelry, and more than $250,000 in currency was allegedly seized.

Multiple pistols and long guns, some of which that were stored in an unsafe manner, were also seized, police said.

Sixteen people, “including alleged money launderers, gaming house operators, enforcers and debt collectors,” were arrested, police said.

“The alleged ring leader, Paris Christoforou, is out of the country. Police have issued a warrant for his arrest,” the RCMP said.

More charges are pending on additional suspects, police added.

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