Gambling

Magic Palace Montreal Shut Down, Denies Links to Sinaloa Cartel

Posted on: March 28, 2024, 02:59h. 

Last updated on: March 28, 2024, 03:26h.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) has closed down the Magic Palace Montreal and suspended its gaming license as a result of an ongoing money laundering investigation.

Luftar Hysa appears on Albanian television, above, to denounce alleged links to the Sinaloa cartel. The businessman is an “investor” in Magic Palace, according to a legal representative for the casino. (Image: CNA)
Luftar Hysa appears on Albanian television, above, to denounce alleged links to the Sinaloa Cartel. The businessman is an “investor” in Magic Palace, according to a legal representative for the casino. (Image: CNA)

The casino, based in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, across the river from Montreal, Canada, says it plans to appeal the decision.

Tribal police arrived at the casino on Monday, told customers to leave, and closed the doors. The KGC said in a statement it had taken the action because of “numerous concerns arising out of investigations conducted over the past several months.”

“The effect of this directive is that Magic Palace must immediately close all of its gaming operations — including both Electronic Gaming Devices and Poker Room tables — pending further decision by the Commission,” the release reads.

Sinaloa Allegations

In October 2023, La Presse reported that an investor in Magic Palace, Albanian-born Luftar Hysa, “recycles money from Mexican traffickers and that he uses a casino in Kahnawake to do so.”

Hysa is being investigated in three countries for links to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful and violent drug-trafficking organizations in the world, according to court documents seen by La Presse.

Everything indicates that Luftar Ali Hysa infiltrated the Kahnawake Indian reservation to facilitate money laundering activities on behalf of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, as well as for his own account,” an RCMP officer told the Montreal courthouse under oath, according to La Presse.  

 The gaming commission in October found Hysa unsuitable to be licensed as a key person, and the Magic Palace apparently severed ties with him.

‘Undisclosed Beneficiary’

Meanwhile, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake hired a US firm specializing in casino audits to investigate. In a statement Tuesday, the council said the investigation revealed there was an “undisclosed beneficiary owner of the Magic Palace” who isn’t a member of the Mohawk First Nation.

The beneficiary exercised significant control over the casino and received most of its profits, according to the council. This would be a violation of the terms of the casino’s right to operate on the reservation, which must be for the good of the community, the council said.

Lawyer Pierre L’Ecuyer represents Magic Palace owners Barry Alfred and Stan Myiow. He confirmed that Hysa was an “investor” in the casino, but suggested the RCMP gave “false information” to the gaming commission about cartel links.

“[Hysa] had some allegations made in Mexico where he has some casinos,” L’Ecuyer told La Presse. “Mr. Hysa has been completely cleared and it was clear that these allegations were made because people in the same business wanted Mr. Hysa out of the business.”


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