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Entries in Illegal Gambling (1)

Tuesday
Apr122011

$10 Million Unearthed in Gangsters' Garlic Patch

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte(SEOUL, South Korea) -- When a laborer named Ahn was hired to dig up a Japanese apricot tree in a South Korean garlic patch, he also uprooted a secret stash of $10 million buried in the field.

Unearthing that secret has spawned a police investigation into the buried loot, a probe into $5 million more that is allegedly missing, and accusations that Ahn stole some of the missing money -- which may just be a tactic by the owner of the land to protect himself from the gangsters whose money he was hiding.

According to South Korean police and news reports, Ahn, 52, was hired in February to excavate the tree after the land was sold because the previous owner wanted his apricot tree after selling the land to a man named Lee. The reports do not identify any of the men's first names.

In digging up the tree, Ahn also pulled up a plastic box, which he discarded as junk unaware that it was stuffed with $270,000 in cash.

Two months later, Lee, 53, accused Ahn of stealing $620,000. Lee also delivered the ominous news that the money belonged to gangsters, sending Ahn straight to the police for protection and to declare his innocence, according to police reports.

Police soon descended on the garlic field in the village of Gimje, about 160 miles south of Seoul, and dug it up. On Monday, the cops found 27 plastic boxes packed with South Korean currency, the won, which totaled $10 million.

Confronted with the buried treasure, Lee confessed that the money came from his brothers-in-law and the cash was the profits from their illegal Internet gambling site, police said.

The brothers-in-law, also both surnamed Lee, ran an illegal gambling website with a server based in Hong Kong from January 2008 to November 2009, when the police tracked down the website and put them out of business.

Identified by police to be in their 40s, the two Lee brothers had to find a safe hiding place to stash their cash profits of $10 million before going to jail, the police said. The younger Lee brother was imprisoned in November 2009, while the older Lee brother is on the run. 

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ABC News Radio