Forty-Seven Defendants Charged in Illegal Gambling

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – A federal grand jury has indicted 47 people who are allegedly associated with illegal gambling establishments that are closely tied to gangs, drugs and violence in San Diego neighborhoods.

Early this morning, more than 450 members of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force – Gang Group, the San Diego Police Department and many other law enforcement agencies made 35 arrests and searched 24 locations, mostly illegal gambling dens in East San Diego neighborhoods. In all, 44 firearms, more than 12 pounds of methamphetamine, $263,000 in cash, and 640 gambling machines were seized during the two-year investigation. Of the 35 people arrested, 15 are part of the indicted group, and the others were arrests for state offenses. Three of the indicted individuals were already in custody prior to the takedown.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy, operating illegal gambling businesses, maintaining drug involved premises, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, distribution of methamphetamine, importation of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearm and felon in possession of ammunition. The gambling dens continued to operate during the pandemic.

Gambling Location Photo01

“We have taken down the illegal gambling dens, and we have lifted a weight off our neighborhoods,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “As a result of the collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement officials, law-abiding citizens who live in these neighborhoods will be safer without these magnets for crime in their midst.  I am particularly grateful to FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner, SDPD Chief David Nisleit, and District Attorney Summer Stephan for their work on this investigation and their dedication to keeping our community safe.”


“These gambling dens were not only host to illegal gambling, but a hub for a variety of other criminal activity to include drug trafficking and unlawful possession of firearms,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “This serves as another example of what happens when you bring together dedicated law enforcement professionals using a comprehensive approach to detect, disrupt, and dismantle these criminal operations.”

“Numerous crimes have been linked to the illegal gambling operations,” said SDPD Chief David Nisleit. “The investigative work led by the Violent Crimes Task Force and the arrests made have created a safer environment for all of our communities.”

“This joint operation is a prime example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement works together to respond to community concerns over increased crime in their neighborhoods,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “Our DA team worked tirelessly with the Violent Crimes Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office assisting with critical search warrants during the course of this operation.”

Those arrested today include the owners of the businesses and employees who acted as doormen, security and bankers; those who audit the machines; and those who collect the money. Also arrested were alleged drug dealers who operated within the dens.

The indictments allege that illegal gambling dens were often located inside small businesses or inside houses, apartments, and outbuildings in residential neighborhoods predominantly in City Heights, in the East San Diego area.  According to court records, it is common for gambling den owners to pay rent in cash to the owners of these properties and, in some cases, a percentage of the profits to cast a blind eye to all the foot traffic.

These establishments are equipped with electronic gambling machines which are programmed with several games of chance such as poker, blackjack, keno, jacks or better, and slot games. Most locations of these establishments are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The indictments allege that many of these gambling locations were taking in thousands of dollars a day.

Gambling Location Photo04

The main draw to illegal gambling establishments is methamphetamine use and sales, according to the indictments. It’s rare to have a patron who does not use or sell methamphetamine inside these locations. The people selling drugs inside may be employees or independent drug dealers. According to court records, it is common for employees to hand out small amounts of methamphetamine and “comp” customers to keep them playing and coming back for more.

Grossman praised federal prosecutors Dale Blankenship and Matthew Brehm as well as the Deputy District Attorneys, FBI Special Agents, San Diego Police Department detectives and officers and other state, federal and local law enforcement agencies who worked so hard on this investigation.

*Denotes fugitives

DEFENDANTS     

21CR1109-H INDICTMENT                                      

Case Number 21CR1109-H

NameAgeHometown
LONG NGOC TRAN (1),   aka “Long Tu,”41San Diego
*TUNG THANH NGUYEN (2),   aka “Ang,”51San Diego
THANH LAN THI NGUYEN (3),   aka “Lan,”42San Diego
DENNIS MICHAEL DIBLASI (4),   aka “Drago,”47San Diego
*WAYNE JONATHAN CLAYTON Jr. (5),   aka “G-Wayne,”50San Diego
*YVONNE MICHELLE AGUILAR (6),   aka “Michelle,”41San Diego
*ROBERT JAMES WRIGHT (7),38San Diego
TAM ONH ONG (8),   aka “Fireball,”43San Diego
*SAENGAMPHAY M. PHOMMASANE (9)   aka “Melinda,”38San Diego
*KAREN RENE ANN PRANGSAMPHAN- PORTER (10),   aka “KK,”31Arizona
*JESSICA CASTILLO (11),   aka “Green Eyes,”39San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371 – Conspiracy)

Illegal Gambling Business (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1955)

Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 856(a)(1))

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Conspiracy Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Illegal Gambling Business Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Maintaining Drug Involved Premises Charges: Five years’ imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Distribution of Methamphetamine Charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1111-H

21CR1111-H INDICTMENT

NameAgeHometown
*TRI MINH VO, (1),37San Diego
TIEN HONG HONG LE (2),   aka “Mr. Le,”58Phoenix, AZ
DONG VAN NGUYEN (3),43San Diego
*DANG VAN NGUYEN (4),53San Diego
*MICHELLE SALVADORE EDWARDS (5),48San Ysidro
*KHANG DINH NGUYEN (6),   aka “K-Y,”45San Diego
*LEETRI DANG (7),36San Diego
*KE VAN TRAN (8),   aka “Kevin,”57San Diego
*KIARA PORSHA EASLEY (9),28San Diego
TO VAN LAI (10),   aka “Took,”42San Diego
CU VAN HUYN (11),   aka “Cucu,”39San Diego
*DAPHNE NICOLE RIVERA (12),45El Cajon
*WILLIAM VANNA BOUNSAVATH (13)  aka “Ray Ray,”34San Diego
*ALMA SOCORRO SILVA (14),48San Diego
TONY NGUYEN (15)   aka “Lucky,”40San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371 – Conspiracy)

Illegal Gambling Business (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1955)

Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 856(a)(1))

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Conspiracy Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Illegal Gambling Business Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Maintaining Drug Involved Premises Charges: Five years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Methamphetamine Charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1110-H

21CR1110-H INDICTMENT

Name AgeHometown
*JIMMY HUI BANH (1),43San Diego
JOSE ANTONIO TORRESDAY (2),   aka “Pepe,”29San Diego
TINA SENKET (3),33San Diego
JIMMY LU (4),  aka “Nam Van Lu,”  aka “Nam Thao,”54San Diego
*ARCADIO MAMURI CRUZ (5),  aka “Bangsta,”  aka “Archie,”36San Diego
*MARK ANONAS ARCELAO (6),   aka “Lil Tipsy,”28Jacksonville, Florida

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371 – Conspiracy)

Illegal Gambling Business (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1955)

Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 856(a)(1))

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Maximum Penalties: For Conspiracy Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Illegal Gambling Business Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Maintaining Drug Involved Premises Charges: Five years’ imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charges: Ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Case Number 21CR1112-H

21CR1112-H INDICTMENT

Name AgeHometown
*LE THI LE (1),   aka “Chi Le,”70San Diego
PHOUNG THANH BUI (2)45San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371 – Conspiracy)

Illegal Gambling Business (Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1955)

Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 856(a)(1))

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Conspiracy Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Illegal Gambling Business Charge: Five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Maintaining Drug Involved Premises Charges: Five years’ imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Distribution of Methamphetamine Charges: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1116-H

Name AgeHometown
*MARTA LIDIA GUTIERREZ27San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Importation of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 & 960)

Maximum Penalties: Importation of Methamphetamine Charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1114-H

Name AgeHometown
*ENRIQUE SAMUEL DUENAS,    aka “Kiki,”28San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Importation of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 & 960)

Maximum Penalties: For Distribution of Methamphetamine Charges: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charges: Ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: Importation of Methamphetamine Charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1124-H

Name AgeHometown
*CESAR ALONZO VALLADOLID,    aka “Playboy,”36San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Importation of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 & 960)

Maximum Penalties: For Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine Charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charges: Ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Maximum Penalties: Importation of Methamphetamine Charges: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1113-H

Name AgeHometown
ARTHUR MARCELINO CASTILLO40San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Distribution of Methamphetamine Charge: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1117-H

Name AgeHometown
*KEOUDONE INTHAVONG47San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession with Intent to Distribute/Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Methamphetamine Charges: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1123-H

Name AgeHometown
*WILLIAM HENRY SCOVALL,  aka “Cap,”24San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charge: Ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Case Number 21CR1115-H

Name AgeHometown
*JULIUS GREENOGE39San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charge: 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Case Number 21CR1119-H

Name AgeHometown
*PHINATH PETER KHVANN,  aka “Peanut,”44San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm Charge: Ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Case Number 21CR1118-H

Name AgeHometown
*PHONETHIP PETE INTHAVONG50San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession with Intent to Distribute (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Possession with Intent to Distribute Charge: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1121-H

Name AgeHometown
DAVID LIBANAN OPHEIM,    aka “Casper,”46San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession with Intent to Distribute (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Possession with Intent to Distribute Charge: 40 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a $5 million fine.

Case Number 21CR1120-H

Name AgeHometown
THANH NGUYEN,    aka “Poway,”46Poway

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearms and Ammunition (18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1)

and 924(a)(2))

Maximum Penalties: For Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition Charges:  years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Case Number 21CR1122-H

Name AgeHometown
SEAN MICHAEL RIED (1)33San Diego
TUNG NGOC NGUYEN (2)24San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine (Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1))

Maximum Penalties: For Distribution of Methamphetamine Charge: Forty years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine.

AGENCIES

Members on the Violent Crimes Task Force

FBI

San Diego Police Department

San Diego Sheriff’s Department

Internal Revenue Service

Homeland Security Investigations

National City Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department

Federal Bureau of Prisons

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

San Diego County Probation

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Additional partner agencies participating in the takedown.

Drug Enforcement Administration

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

U.S. Marshals Service

California Bureau of Gambling Control

San Diego City Attorney’s Office

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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