SALT LAKE CITY — After months of undercover investigation, Unified Police have arrested Saif Al-Fatlawi, a man they said has been making $8 million a year in cash from gambling machines.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office filed charges that include money laundering, transferring firearms and possession or use of controlled substances.
The key behind all of this though, said District Attorney Sim Gill, was the gambling machines.
“What we had here was multiple locations serving as store front, gambling establishments where the primary source of revenue really was engaging in gambling,” said Gill.
According to a probable cause statement, Al-Fatlawi is the owner of four City Corner shops across Salt Lake County.
Undercover detectives said they found gambling devices either in the basement or at the store front for each of Al-Fatlawi’s shops.
“Gambling itself is a low level offense,” said Gill.
Yet, the organized efforts often lead to more serious felony charges, like money laundering and racketeering.
Over months of undercover work, detectives learned Al-Fatlawi had machines that required cash payouts, and that his businesses were stocked solely from the cash made on the gambling machines.
When officers seized the gambling devices in January, the probable cause statement said the cash from all locations amounted to a little more than $9,000.
Detectives said multiple guns were thrown out the window while they were performing a search warrant on Al-Fatlawi’s apartment in downtown Salt Lake City.
One of the guns, they believe, was stolen.
At least nine other names were listed in the statement as employees or associates of Fatlawi, who also face similar charges.
Gill said more arrests could be made.
“While Salt Lake and Utah may seem like sleepy little state,” said Gill, “we have the same issues as some of the other metropolises, not only in violence crime, but also the gambling.”