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Illegal gaming machines are seized in police crackdown across Northern Ireland

By Cate McCurry

Published 15/03/2016

Officers from the PSNI Economic Crime Unit seized a number of illegal gaming machines during raids yesterday
Officers from the PSNI Economic Crime Unit seized a number of illegal gaming machines during raids yesterday
Officers from the PSNI Economic Crime Unit seized a number of illegal gaming machines during raids yesterday

Police have seized a massive haul of illegal gaming machines and cash as part of their clampdown on illegal gambling.

The seizure included a significant number of illegal gaming machines, related technical equipment, documentation and a substantial amount of cash and criminal property.

Two men aged 39 and 69 were arrested as part of the major police investigation into alleged illegal gambling and money laundering by detectives from the Economic Crime Unit.

They were later released on police bail pending further investigation.

Officers swooped on eight separate spots across Northern Ireland yesterday including business and residential properties in the Lurgan, Dungannon, Antrim and Belfast areas.

DUP MLA for Lagan Valley Jonathan Craig, described the criminal gangs involved in the illegal gaming rooms as a "leech on our society".

The Policing Board member added: "It has been proved that in certain areas there is a very clear link between illegal gambling and paramilitary groupings using this to raise money for illegal purposes.

"I think this is another mechanism of closing down on these criminal gangs that are a leech on our society out there and it's welcome that police are doing that on a wide scale and taking away yet another means of extorting money from the innocent victims in Northern Ireland.

"It's one of many funding streams but I know it is one of the more lucrative mechanisms that these paramilitaries have of raising money so it's good that police are clamping down.

"There is a need to target other areas as well. I know that the cross-border task force is now looking at how to clampdown on smuggling across the border with fuel, cigarettes and all of those other commodities."

Detective chief inspector Ian Wilson, from the Economic Crime Unit said: "This is part of a major investigation into illegal gambling and money laundering.

"We believe there is a link between illegal gambling and money laundering which feeds other forms of crime in our community. This illegal gambling is often used by criminals as a means of laundering money obtained from organised criminal activity and plays an important role in other forms of acquisitive and organised crime. We are determined to tackle it. Our enquiries will continue for some time."

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