Police bust multi-million dollar illegal gambling operation allegedly tied to Hell’s Angels
Published Thursday, December 19, 2019 11:46AM EST Last Updated Thursday, December 19, 2019 6:56PM EST
KITCHENER -- Police have broken up a multi-million dollar illegal gaming operation that was tied to a series of attempted murders, arsons, extortion threats, shootings and assaults.
OPP launched Project Hobart as a result of an escalation of violence across Ontario and Quebec between August 2017 and May 2018.
Their focus was on an illegal gaming organization allegedly controlled by members of the Hell’s Angels outlaw motorcycle gang. They have been identified as Robert Barletta, Craig McIlquham, Eugenio “Gino” Reda and Raffaele Simonelli.
Police say Michael Deabaitua-Schulde, a known member of the gang and a member of the illegal gaming organization, was murdered last March as he was leaving a gym in Peel Region.
Their investigation led police to a gaming house in Mississauga and five sports gaming websites – Ultimate SB, Titan SB, PlaytoWin SB, Privada SB and Players SB.
Police say that between January and July of this year the sportsbook associated with the Hell’s Angels brought in approximately $13 million.
The total revenue over the last five years is an estimated $131 million.
Police say all five website were controlled by Barletta, McIlquham and Reda.
They also had links to the Figliomeni Crime Family, according to another investigation by York Regional Police.
Last week police agencies conducted multiple search warrants where they seized or took control of:
- 7 residences and 2 vacation properties valued at just over $8.1 million
- Financial accounts totaling $1.2 million
- 18 vehicles, including luxury and vintage automobiles, 3 Harley Davidson motorcycles, 2 snowmobiles and 2 golf carts
- More than $1.7 million cash
- Gold and silver coins and bars valued at $320,000
- High-end luxury watches and jewelry worth $303,000
- 21 firearms, including 9 illegal handguns, 6 rifles, 3 shotguns and 3 other handguns
- 2 conducted energy weapons
- Several ballistic vests
- Hell’s Angels paraphernalia
Police say 28 people are now facing a total of 228 charges, including bookmaking, firearm offences, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud.
OPP have not released their names but say the majority of them have already appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in a Brampton courthouse over the next four weeks.
OPP call Project Hobart a complex multijurisdictional investigation that involved 18 agencies. Waterloo Regional Police, Stratford Police and Woodstock Police, as well as policing services in London, Hamilton and Niagara were involved in the investigation.