Illegal game room sting in Austin nets more arrests

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Newly released documents show just how expansive an alleged illegal gambling operation really was.

More warrants have been served after a three-month long surveillance operation of 53-year-old Chong Pak, who was arrested at his Hutto home on Monday.

A CrimeStopper tip to police in April claimed an illegal game room that was fenced in for security was operating at 602 Provines Dr. in north Austin. The tip added that the location is “very busy” and “people sell drugs there.” Police also received similar information about the room in March.

In May, detectives started surveillance on Kuk Seo, 41, at his home at on Bayland Street in Round Round under the suspicion he opened the illegal game room in Austin. They also identified utility records of the address to a King “Mike” McCoy. Detectives say several times a day, Seo would drive back and forth to the location on Provines Drive. The affidavit says Seo would arrive at the game room after it closed to finalize the daily profits.

Chong Pak (Austin Police Department Photo)
Chong Pak (Austin Police Department Photo)

Detectives identified Maria Galindo as the cashier at the location and surveillance indicated she was there on a daily basis. According to the affidavit, Galindo has a history of managing illegal game rooms in Austin.

Seo was also found frequenting an illegal game room on 11331 N. Lamar Blvd #C during the day before heading to the room on Provines Drive, which is only a few blocks away. Police say they detained McCoy who was working inside that address in February and believe both McCoy, 49, and Seo operate out of the location as well.

To avoid getting caught, police say Seo drove by the officers to verify their identity because he is known to conduct counter-surveillance and “heat checks” to avoid police.

In early June, an informant was sent into the Provines Drive location and identified “Mike” and “Maria” working inside. The informant was given money to gamble with while searching the game room. Police say the informant at the home had 25 game machines and that he was paid out in cash on two separate occasions after winning.

Police issued a search and arrest warrant and arrested McCoy and Seo earlier this month. Twenty-three game machines and more than $5,000 in cash was seized.

When questioned, Seo said he worked the game rooms for McCoy and admitted to taking a percentage of pay. He also mentioned the machines came from Houston vendors.

According to the affidavit, McCoy admitted and identified his boss as “Joe.” Police later identified Joe as Chong Pak. McCoy stated Pak told him to find a new building and put utilities under his name to open another game room. Police say once McCoy rented the home, Pak took care of getting the machines inside and operable.

Neighbors in the area say it’s about getting to know who lives next to you.

“They noticed the cars, people drive home and they noticed an unusual number of cars and in this case that neighbor called it in,” said Robert Meadows, president of the Walnut Creek Neighborhood Association.

Meadows says no matter how log it takes investigators, if you see something say something.

“They’ll pull out of their driveway and say there’s a suspicious vehicle that gets posted on Nextdoor, someone else in the neighborhood runs the license plate and before you know it, we know something,” Meadows said. “Organized neighbors are really powerful.”

Police say King was arrested and posted bond. Seo and Galindo have warrants out for their arrest. Police say all three have been charged with engaging in organized crime.

Pak is charged with engaging in organized crime and money laundering. He has posted bail but was forced to surrender his two passports.

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