FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Three of four people have been arrested after officials said they were connected to a Korean gambling ring being operated in Cumberland and Wake counties, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.
The sheriff’s office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have spent months working together on a criminal investigation into a Korean gambling ring, officials said. That investigation has now resulted in the execution of search warrants and the issuance of arrest warrants for those believed to be involved in the ring.
Investigators seized more than $100,000 in currency, 35 stand up type gambling machines, several guns and a trafficking amount of opioids.
Authorities also seized a game known as “the fish game” where players shoot animated fish with predetermined cash value.
These “fish games” are the first to be seized in North Carolina, official said.
According to authorities, the group is led by Gyoung Lok Lee in Cumberland County. Officials have linked the organization to other gambling operations in Flushing, New York, Irving, Texas, and Los Angeles.
Lee was one of three arrested Friday.
Lee, of Fayetteville was charged with continuing criminal enterprise, two counts of operating five or more video poker machines and felony conspiracy.
Jay Hugh Pridgen, Fayetteville was charged with continuing criminal enterprise, two counts of operating five or more video poker machines and felony conspiracy.
Allen Larson, of Fayetteville was charged with operating five or more video poker machines and felony conspiracy.
Friday’s operation is “the first action being taken to shut down [the] criminal enterprise,” the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities have obtained search warrants for six locations, five in Cumberland County and one in Raleigh:
108 Old Gate Road, Fayetteville
2033 George Owen Road, Fayetteville
1876 Spiralwood Drive, Fayetteville
3069 Cumberland Road, Fayetteville
3206 University Drive, Hope Mills
6027 McDevon Drive, Raleigh
Deputies will also be executing search warrants at a number of local banks in relation to accounts that need to be seized in which gambling money was being laundered, officials said.
An arrest warrant for Eric Murillo has been issued.
Murillo, of Fayetteville is wanted on charges of operating five or more video poker machines and felony conspiracy.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said that neighbors of those who are believed to be involved in the ring have thanked deputies for their work.
“The neighbors I’ve talked to are thankful we’re doing something about this, it’s high traffic, there’s always the opportunity for there to be violence here because we found in other jurisdictions where gambling is not being regulated like it is in Cumberland that you end up having armed robberies or shootings at these type of establishments,” said Sean Swain with Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.