On Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Officer, Southern District of California, revealed that Long Ngoc Tran, 42, of San Diego, was sentenced to 72 months or six years in prison over his participation in a large-scale illegal gambling operation. Investigators believe that the illegal operation was probably active for a decade resulting in a significant increase in the crime rate predominantly in East San Diego.
It was back in April 2021 when Tran was charged with conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business and maintain drug-involved premises. Moreover, he was indicted for operating an illegal gambling business as well as maintaining drug-involved premises. After his arrest, he initially pled not guilty.
However, a few years later, in July 2022, Tran pled guilty to the first three charges under a plea agreement. This, effectively confirmed he admitted to committing the aforementioned three crimes. Court documents reveal that Tran participated in the operation of at least nine illegal gambling businesses.
“Today, the sentencing of Tran represents not only the end of the illegal gambling network he operated, but the termination of all violent crimes perpetrated due to the existence of these illegal gambling dens.“
Stacey Moy, special agent within FBI’s San Diego Field Office
Stacey Moy, the special agent in charge from FBI’s San Diego Field Office explained that Tran’s sentence puts an end to a large-scale illegal gambling operation. At the same time, he explained that the large-scale operation completed in conjunction with multiple law enforcement agencies that ultimately brought down the illegal gambling business helped terminate other violent crimes that were exacerbated by the illegal gambling dens.
According to Moy, law enforcement agencies remain committed to protecting residents from violence and crimes. Finally, he said: “We thank our partners that make up the Violent Crime Task Force – Gang Group for their coordination in ensuring that Tran returns to where he belongs—behind bars.”
A Large-Scale Operation Takes Down the Illegal Gambling Dens
Court documents reveal that the illegal gambling operation in San Diego involved two dozen locations. Many of those locations operated 24/7 and served as a catalyst for other crimes such as drug dealing, prostitution, selling of illegal firearms, as well as violent crimes such as assaults, robberies and shootings.
Between July 2018 and July 2020, more than 400 crimes were recorded within 150 feet of 36 illegal gambling locations. Predominantly located in City Heights, an area within East San Diego, the illegal gambling dens captured the attention of multiple law enforcement agencies.
Ultimately, the downfall of the illegal gambling dens started in April 2021. This is when 450 law enforcement officers from the DEA, ATF, IRS, FBI, the San Diego Police Department, as well as other law enforcement agencies, conducted an operation that resulted in the arrest of nearly 40 individuals, seizure of money, firearms, 287 gambling machines and different quantities of methamphetamine.