The United States federal government announced today that it has arrested dozens of members of a Russian crime syndicate for a long list of alleged crimes. This raises the inevitable question of whether these arrests relate to the FBI’s ongoing and broadening investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian connections and financial dealings. There’s one clue in the press release that may provide insight.
The various charges against these alleged Russian mobsters include everything but the kitchen sink: “murder-for-hire conspiracy, a plot to rob victims by seducing and drugging them with chloroform, the theft of cargo shipments containing over 10,000 pounds of chocolate, and a fraud on casino slot machines using electronic hacking devices,” according to the Justice Department website (link). Stealing ten thousand pounds of chocolate might be one of the strangest mafia crimes of all time. But the details of the casino related crimes are what may or may not give away what’s really going on here.
Here’s the detail stands out: the alleged crimes include “efforts to defraud casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia by using electronic devices and computer servers to predict and exploit the behavior of electronic slot machines.” Donald Trump had two casinos in Atlantic City, including the Taj Mahal. He retained an ownership stake in it all the way up through 2015 before he he bailed out, and then it ultimately went out of business altogether.
As Palmer Report has previously reported (link), the U.S. Treasury Department busted the Trump Taj Mahal for participating in money laundering in early 2016, in the form of a multimillion dollar fine. Donald Trump still owned a stake in the Taj Mahal at the time. The Senate Intelligence Committee has recently taken an interest in that money laundering bust, and has asked the Treasury Department for additional details.
So maybe the Feds have moved in on these Russian mobsters because they’re the same ones who who were laundering money through Trump’s Atlantic City casino, and now the Feds want to get them to flip against Donald Trump himself. Or maybe this is simply a standard issue takedown of a crime syndicate and it has nothing to do with the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation at all. We’ll find out eventually.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report