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NYPD Arrest Organizers Of Meetup.com $1-$2 Poker Game With Alleged Ties To Drugs

Atlanta Woman Arrested For Promoting Game Remotely

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Authorities in New York City said Friday that they have busted an underground poker operation that used the social networking site Meetup.com to find players.

The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York said that 32 individuals were arrested on narcotics, money laundering and gambling charges. Authorities alleged that 52-year-old David Diaz of New York City was the “head” of the poker and drug businesses, which police say had some overlap. The drugs allegedly involved included cocaine, marijuana and Xanax. Police said they seized a kilogram of cocaine, as well as “quantities” of other drugs, in addition to poker chips and cards. Authorities released a photo with the contraband seized from the 19 “search locations” that were authorized by a court.

The poker room was located in a “busy commercial district” near West 11th Street and Avenue of the Americas in the West Village, according to a press release. At least one undercover officer was placed in the game, which followed a “long-term” wiretapping of the alleged drug ring that stretched across multiple states. Federal authorities were also involved.

The “sophisticated” poker room was frequented by “New York City professionals,” police said. Authorities alleged that “several undercover [drug] sales took place in the vicinity of the West Village poker house.” It doesn’t appear that any drugs or weapons were seized from the poker room, though police said the room was “used to fund further narcotics trafficking.”

The underground poker games ran from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., police said. The operation consisted of two floors of games, allowing for about 30 poker players to play on any given night. The lower floor was for $200 buy-in poker games, while the upper floor was for $500 buy-ins. Those are the smallest no-limit hold’em stakes one could find in a legal and regulated Las Vegas poker room.

While Diaz was in charge, the poker games were allegedly managed and promoted by 43-year-old Geeta Singh, who was called Mira. Police said that Singh promoted the games remotely from her residence in Atlanta, Ga. They also said that she “oversaw a related online poker business.”

“Among the methods Singh allegedly used to draw high stakes clientele were event listings through the online service Meetup. Clientele for the poker games were thoroughly vetted and were required to show a text message from Singh in order to gain entrance to the poker house.”

In a statement, Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said “gambling debts [lead] to desperation, crime and sometimes suicide.” The news release didn’t mention whether or not any of the poker players who played in the underground poker room had amassed any gambling debt.