Providence police arrest 9 in organized gambling ring
A major organized crime bust in Providence netted police close to $70,000 and led to nine arrests, authorities announced Thursday.
It marked the culmination of a seven-month investigation.
Yami Cell Phones on Broad Street in Providence was gated shut Thursday afternoon.
Officials said it was all part of an illegal bookmaking a sports betting ring.
But it was just one of several businesses raided by police last Saturday.
They also raided two other businesses, including Vanidades Lumy on Cranston Street and Moviles Y Mas on Prairie Avenue, plus two second floor apartments.
Authorities recovered $60,278 in cash, as well as lottery receipts and computers.
The lottery tickets sold were for the Dominican lottery.
"When people go in, they give money and are given a handwritten slip," Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said. "That's illegal, so if you were to win and you can't collect, who do you go to? And that's the danger in these kinds of operations."
The following individuals were arrested and charged with organized criminal gambling business, bookmaking, forms of gambling prohibited, and keeping a gambling place:
- Stephany Cabrera, age 24
- Pamela Espinal, age 20
- Noel Acevedo, age 42
- Ivelisse Bencosme, age 22
- Frannys Gomez Urbaez, age 37
- Kelvin Leonel Vasquez Bisono, age 35
In conjunction with the investigation, another search netted three arrests and the seizure of $60,000 worth of Fentanyl at a home at 63 Wyoming Street in Warwick. Fentanyl is the drug used to lace heroin and has been linked to many overdose deaths in the city.
"We know that illegal gambling preys on an unfortunate addiction and is often linked to the production and distribution of drugs," Mayor Jorge Elorza said.
This investigation led to the arrest of three people, including Felix Vasquez, aka Dionis Arias, 45. Police said he was "conducting illegal gambling, consisting of sports and numbers betting."
Authorities noted that Vasquez/Arias, who told police he lives at the home on Wyoming Street, used the store front Quisquevana 401 Multiservice at 1093 Broad Street as a guise.
At the business, police also seized an additional $8,785 in cash, along with computers, betting slips and other evidence associated with illegal gambling.
As a result of the investigation, police identified Francisco Espinal, and Mery Garcia, 22, as co-conspirators. They were charged with "gambling and lotteries, keeping of gambling places, gambling and lottery forms of gambling prohibited and bookmaking."
"I commend the Investigators in the Organized Crime and Intelligence Unit who are tasked with the challenging job of investigating organized criminal activity in our city," Col. Hugh Clements said in a press release. "The Providence Police Department is committed to dismantling these illegal organizations and the announcement of today's arrests should serve as a deterrent to criminals involved in these activities."
All of the suspects are in custody, said police.
"We have investigated, uncovered, and are going to hold responsible those individuals that prey on so many in this community," Pare said.
The investigation is not linked with the recent state police bust into an Internet gambling ring in Warwick and Narragansett in which 17 men face charges such as bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, and conspiracy. One of the men faces drug counts.
The arrests in that case include a DCYF investigator, local athletes, and youth coaches. That investigation is still ongoing.