A police task force seized more than $1 million in a gambling raid on businesses at the Eden Center, a predominantly Vietnamese shopping district in Falls Church, investigators said Friday.
Members of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force arrested several members of the Dragon Family, a predominantly Vietnamese gang, police said.
"The Dragon Family has been long established in the Eden Center," said Lt. Dan Hess, lead commander of the task force. "There were numerous arrests last night, most of those were misdemeanor arrests. There are approximately 20 felony arrests pending. There have been stabbings, shootings, extortion."
Complaints about the Eden Center started in 2010, said Col. Harry Reitze, Falls Church Police chief.
"Our department attempted on several occasions to investigate and penetrate several locations at the Eden Center, but we were unsuccessful. The nature and scope of the problem were beyond our resources," Reitze said at a news conference at City Hall.
He then asked the task force — a multijurisdictional partnership comprising local, state and federal law enforcement agencies — to investigate.
The gambling machines seized were worth nearly $200,000, police said. The names of the businesses involved in the raid were not released. In addition to the Eden Center, another business close by in Fairfax County was also raided, police said.
One individual reported to police that he had lost more than $100,000 from gambling with the machines, which appeared to be entertainment gaming machines, but were equipped with concealed money slot compartments.
Police said the investigation continues, which meant some details remained undisclosed. But investigators said they believe the arrests will significantly disrupt gang activity throughout the region.
"The community [is] very intimidated by the presence of these gangsters," Hess said. "Last night, before we had all the search warrants secured, we had business owners and patrons of the Eden Center coming up and thanking the detectives, saying finally, thank you. They were afraid to go into certain areas of the Eden Center, it definitely had a significant impact on the community."