Posted on: December 12, 2022, 07:21h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2022, 02:15h.

Police in Puerto Rico may have uncovered pieces of a criminal organization that’s been terrorizing the gambling industry in the US. They arrested a man after he stole almost $18K from an electronic roulette machine, and believe he may have links to a large syndicate.

Puerto Rico Police
A Puerto Rico policeman in uniform. Law enforcement officials in Puerto Rico arrested a man who tampered with an electronic roulette machine at a casino and stole almost $18K. (Image: El Nuevo Día)

Edmanuel Victoria, a young man from Cuba who lives in Florida, faces accusations of manipulating a digital roulette wheel in the casino at the Marriott Hotel in Condado, Puerto Rico. The preliminary investigation has led authorities to believe he’s part of an organization dedicated to hacking slot machines in different parts of the US.

El Vocero de Puerto Rico explains that Victoria’s capers began unraveling on December 2. That’s when casino security noticed a player using some type of key to manipulate the device over 17 times. It would be several days later before the tale came to an end.

Cocky Crook Captured

The casino and Jesús Hernández Torres of the Puerto Rico Gaming Commission (PRGC) initially filed the complaint about the theft. This is the first case the regulator has filed with Puerto Rico’s court system since it was created three years ago.

A week later, on December 9, Victoria returned to the casino, at which time, the hotel’s security manager detained him. At the time of the arrest, the casino had already distributed Victoria’s photograph to other casinos and everyone was on the lookout.

Police took Victoria into custody and he now faces charges of fraud. Police accuse him of stealing $9,600 on one occasion and $9,575 on another. Investigators are now determining if his modus operandi and identity match thefts at other casinos across the US.

When they arrested Victoria, police found $14,109 stuffed in his pants, along with the key that allowed him to perpetrate his crimes. He faces two counts of fraud, and despite not living in Puerto Rico, received bail.

Victoria will return to court on December 22 for his preliminary hearing. If found guilty, he faces eight years in prison for fraud and 15 years for theft.

Caught in the Act

The electronic roulette machine has a sensor that detects when there’s a sudden movement of the cabinet that houses the components. That movement triggers a reset of the machine and sends a signal to the casino so it can schedule tests.

Victoria, using his key, was able to carry out the reset and stop the transmission of the warning. At the same time, that reset restored game credits, which allowed him to continue to play for free indefinitely. The only cost was the initial wager to start the gaming session.

What Victoria apparently forgot, however, is that most casinos have cameras. These caught him in the act, but he escaped to Florida before being caught. He returned to Puerto Rico on December 8 and made his way back to the same casino floor.

The PRGC, along with local police and law enforcement in the US, are now looking at the case closely. The regulator believes there’s a link to organized crime in the US. But only a larger investigation will be able to make that determination.