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Police Operation Busts Major Vietnamese Gambling Ring in California

A crackdown on Vietnamese-American organized crime in San Jose led to the arrests of nearly two dozen people, including a San Jose police officer, on Wednesday.

The Mercury News reports that the arrests were the result of a six-month probe led by the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) gang investigations unit. The team uncovered a complex gambling, extortion and drug trafficking ring run out of Vietnamese cafes in the city.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia outlined the wide-ranging sting, called “Operation: Gang of Thrones,” at a press conference on Wednesday. According to The Mercury News, Garcia announced that 23 people were arrested on charges including extortion, public corruption, narcotic trafficking, assault, illegal gun possession and conspiracy.

The arrests spanned the country, with warrants being served in San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Fremont and Anaheim in California, along with an undisclosed location in Louisiana. The dragnet also yielded a cache of drugs, weapons, gambling machines and, oddly, an alligator. Meanwhile, six suspects remain at large.

The most shocking aspect of the case was the arrest of Officer Derrick Antonio, a nine-year veteran of the SJPD who allegedly leaked sensitive police intelligence to gang members. Antonio is currently free on bail.

City Councilman Manh Nguyen was quoted by The Mercury News thanking the police department for its efforts. “We’ve been hearing about Vietnamese gangs and illegal activities in coffee shops for a long time, and I’m glad they arrested these people,” he said. “I’m calling for Vietnamese residents to fully cooperate with the police to fight crime.”

This isn’t the SJPD’s first run-in with Vietnamese gangs. In March 2015 the department’s vice unit led “Operation Omni,” a crackdown on 11 cafes where over 100 illegal electronic gambling machines were confiscated. San Jose, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, estimated at 160,000 people, according to a local CBS affiliate.

[Photo via Mercury News]

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