Photo AP/Paul Connors
FEATURED IN INVESTIGATION
The first article in this series on robbery outlined the elements of these crimes, provided national statistics on rate of occurrence and weapons used, and discussed victimization data, robbery types, initial tactical response and follow-up investigative techniques.
This article and the next will feature a fictional casino robbery and the investigative steps taken to identify and apprehend the perpetrators. According to the National Gaming Association, there are 360 Indian gaming casinos in the United States operated by 220 federally recognized tribes. Thirty-four states allow casino gambling, and two of the largest casinos, Connecticut s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, generate combined annual revenues of approximately $2 billion.
Although this case is entirely fictitious, it s not far-fetched. The more lucrative casinos have seemingly impenetrable security systems and have hired the best security experts money can buy. All engage in continuous worst-case scenario preplanning. But are there people out there with the resources, training and patience to properly case the joint and come up with a feasible plan to steal the money? You bet!
The robbery was conducted with military planning and precision. At precisely 0340 hrs, a fully equipped Connecticut Light & Power Company truck with three uniformed workmen pulled up to the intersection of I-395 & RT 141, roughly two hundred yards through some dense woods to the Mohegan Indian reservation. The men placed bright orange traffic cones on the street and pulled up a large circular steel grate in the middle of the road, and two of the men, carrying tool boxes, descended down a steel ladder built into the side of the cement structure to the landing below. Upon reaching the landing, the men turned left and walked exactly 135 feet along a wide cement tunnel and stopped at electrical conduit marked MN-142. Both men opened their toolboxes, removed their equipment and checked their watches.
At 0345 hrs two men entered each of the four main bathrooms located at diagonal angels off the Mohegan Sun casino floor. Each wore a small black L.L. Bean backpack and entered a stall. From the backpack, each man removed a specially modified Uzi 9mm submachine pistol along with several extra ammunition clips, four flash-bang grenades, several sets of flex cuffs, ear plugs, a pair of night-vision goggles and two red high-combustion highway flares. Each also took out a small radio receiver and clipped it to a utility belt just below a lightweight Kevlar bulletproof vest with titanium trauma plate, and then placed the tiny receiver attached by a filament thin wire to his ear. The backpack was neatly folded into a square and snapped to a special hook behind each man s utility belt. Each man then pulled on a black special-operations ski mask, checked his watch and waited.
At 0348 hrs, four men at slot machines near the entrance to the casino s security office located at the northeast corner of the casino simultaneously checked their watches. Another man, Arthur Fleming, had taken the escalator to the second floor of the casino where the various shops and some specialty restaurants were located. The second floor also featured a double-railed walkway offering a view of most of the casino floor below. Fleming took up a position on the walkway at the exact center of the casino. He removed a tiny radio receiver from the pack on his belt and placed it in his right ear. His pack also held a pair of night-vision goggles, a ski mask and ear plugs, and he carried an Uzi submachine pistol under his sweater. At exactly 0400 hrs Fleming spoke one word into his radio: Begin!
The Connecticut State Police, the towns of Ledyard and Stonington Police Departments, and a fleet of ambulances converged at the Mohegan Sun Indian casino. Agents from the Connecticut office of the FBI arrived at the scene within an hour. A thorough preliminary investigation was completed and then performed again. Federal agents were posted at airports, bus and train stations, and toll booths throughout New England.
Eight hours after the robbery, at 1200 hrs, a meeting was held in a conference room on the third floor of the Wolf s Den Hotel. Frank Kelleher, special agent in charge of the Northeast Bureau of the FBI, had taken command of the investigation. He was joined by the chief State s Attorney for the State of Connecticut, the State Police commissioner, and several local police chiefs. Fifty-seven other police officials from an assortment of law enforcement organizations were crowded into the room, and all were talking at once. After conferring briefly with some aides, Kelleher got up from the conference room table and, holding up both hands for silence, went over to a podium in the front of the room.
Okay everyone. Listen up. Here s what we have so far. At exactly 0400 hrs, the main electrical conduit to the Mohegan Sun Indian Reservation was cut. At the same time, two separate backup generator systems, located at different locations on the reservation, were sabotaged. All lights, computers, slot machines and so forth went dark. At the same time, approximately 8 10 heavily armed men wearing ski masks and night-vision goggles set off the casino s fire sprinkler system with high-intensity flares attached to long expandable poles. About twelve flash-bang grenades were detonated at strategic locations throughout the casino. Our best estimate is that between 3,000 5,000 patrons and employees were in the casino at that time.
So, one minute thousands of people are pulling slot machines and playing craps, and the next its pitch black, water cascades from the ceiling, loud explosions are heard, high-intensity lights flash in the darkness, and automatic weapons are fired. Several hundred rounds from automatic weapon were apparently fired into the casino s ceiling.