HOUSTON – Nearly two dozen people were arrested as part of a year-long investigation into illegal gambling in the Chinatown neighborhood of Houston, officials announced Wednesday.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said that two Houston police officers, Larry Nguyen and Huy Ly, who have now resigned, were among the 22 people who were arrested as part of the operation.
Investigators said Nguyen and Ly helped finance a Lamborghini, a Lexus and other luxury items for one of the owners of an illegal gambling hall.
"When police officers engage in criminal activity, they're not only violating the penal code statutes or the criminal code statues, they're violating their oath of office," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Houston police said Nguyen served as a senior police officer with 16 years of service and was most recently assigned to traffic enforcement.
Ly had 10 years of service and was assigned to the west side division, police said.
"I'm proud that these guys are no longer a part of our organization,” Acevedo said.
Prosecutors are working with the lawyers representing the officers, who have each been charged with money laundering, to have them turned over to authorities, Ogg said.
Ogg said that charges filed against others connected to the case range from money laundering to engaging in organized crime.
"Illegal game rooms, in general, are magnets for crime," Ogg said. "Cash is how business is done. Owners rarely report crime. Ancillary crime, such as robbery, shootings, murders even, extortion, are spinoffs of the criminal gambling industry."
About $2 million was seized by investigators, Ogg said, mainly from the safe of one of the owners of an illegal gaming room.