$87,413.07 dollars, 20 laptops, 74 cellphones, 42 unused internet cards, 11 unused sim cards and numerous accessories and other confiscated electronic items were turned over to President Surangel Whipps Jr. by the Office of Special Prosecutor during Wednesday’s press conference.
The items, according to Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps, were confiscated in the raid conducted at Harvest Hotel in Semiich, Koror, in June of last year. The raid, conducted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Anti-Human Trafficking Office and Bureau of Public Safety, caught 62 individuals, 58 of whom were convicted of promoting gambling and 4 of whom were dismissed (3 of these left before court filing and 1 was dismissed without prejudice).
An additional 44 computer laptops and 93 cellphones and accessories are still being cleaned of data before they are turned over to the government.
Special Prosecutor Cripps said that the process for dealing with confiscated property is complex but the reason the turnover of this seized evidence was quicker than usual was because they included the items mentioned in the plea agreement with the defendants. The defendants agreed to forfeit their properties used in the gaming operation, pay their fines and leave Palau on the earliest flight.
Other cases involving raids of alleged gaming dens led to arrests and seizure of items such as computers, cellphones, sim cards, tokens and other accessories as well as cash. The New Year’s Eve raid of 3 sites at Klubed and Ochelochel in Airai and High Tide in Malakal led to the arrests of 142 PRC nationals. According to reports from the NEA, around $60,000 in cash was seized in this raid. The latest raid, which took place in September 2020 at Palau Vacation Hotel, led to seizure of about $80,000 dollars, and 15 individuals also from PRC were arrested. These cases are still ongoing and items and cash seized are pending final determination and judgment.