Posted on: February 21, 2024, 05:21h. 

Last updated on: February 21, 2024, 05:21h.

Federal prosecutors revealed this week they were able to generate more than $1.9M after successful forfeitures associated with illicit gaming in Hawaii.

Hawaii U.S. Attorney Clare Connors
Hawaii U.S. Attorney Clare Connors, pictured above. She recently announced the forfeiture of property linked to illegal gambling. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Just one illegal gambling operation ran nine game rooms on the island of Oahu, according to Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Part of the $1.9M total was last month’s order forfeiting $307,523.32, according to the Hawaii Star-Advertiser. The proceeds were linked to a civil forfeiture which took place four years ago.

It was from the sale of a residence in Honolulu that was purchased from money raised via illegal gambling.

Also, in 2019, four real estate properties and other seized items led to the forfeiture of $885,070.14. One property was a house in Waipahu, Hawaii. It also was the location of an illegal gambling operation.

A second illicit gaming operation was run at a residence in Pearl City, Hawaii. That property was also forfeited. Two other residences, in Honolulu, were also forfeited.

During the course of the investigation, authorities seized cash, gambling devices, and other property, prosecutors said. Officials also seized money from bank accounts that were linked to illegal gambling.

The forfeitures came as a result of an investigation that began in 2018. It led to 12 convictions. Names of the defendants weren’t immediately available from prosecutors.

Forfeiture Is Critical

When reviewing the outcome of the investigation, forfeiture was an important crime-fighting weapon, prosecutors said.

“Forfeiture provides a critical tool for law enforcement in its efforts to disrupt illegal enterprises and reduce criminal activity in our community,” Hawaii U.S. Attorney Clare Connors said in a recent statement.

Illegal gambling businesses cause significant harm and the successful forfeiture of more than $1 million from this illegal gambling operation reflects our commitment to pursue both criminal and civil actions.”

Gambling Investigations a Priority

In recent years, federal officials and local police have made it a priority to shut down illegal gaming operations in Hawaii.

In May 2023, three illegal game rooms in Nanakuli were raided. Some 38 illegal gambling devices were seized. They were valued at about $300K. The following month, Honolulu police officers confiscated illegal gambling equipment in a commercial building. The devices were valued at $75K.

In July 2023, Honolulu cops seized illegal drugs, an unspecified amount of money, and 45 gambling devices from four different locations. Four suspects were arrested as a result of the raids.

The court-ordered searches were part of a special enforcement involving Honolulu police and federal investigators to curb illegal gambling and related crime. It’s called Operation Firestorm.

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