Two individuals are in custody and facing charges for their alleged involvement in a violent armed robbery at an illicit gambling establishment in Flushing, Queens. Jamel Berry from Astoria and Zhong Wang, a Chinese national, are accused of storming into an underground gambling den on Avery Avenue last July, resulting in one person sustaining gunshot wounds.

The robbery took place on the night of July 19, 2023, when Berry and his accomplices, along with two individuals who are currently at large, disabled the building’s power supply to aid in the execution of the crime. Once inside, the perpetrators assaulted one individual with a metal pipe and brandished a firearm, coercing others to comply with their demands. They made off with approximately $3,000 in cash before firing a shot that struck an innocent bystander in the abdomen. The victim survived and was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital for medical attention.

Surveillance footage captured Berry, Wang, and their accomplices congregating at a nearby location before proceeding to the gambling den and later fleeing the scene.

During a hearing at Brooklyn federal court, prosecutors argued that both Berry and Wang posed a significant flight risk if released. They emphasized Wang’s ties to China, pointing out the absence of an extradition treaty between the United States and China, which could complicate efforts to bring him to justice if he were to flee. Consequently, Wang was ordered to be held in custody, while Berry was placed under home detention pending further legal proceedings. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

This is not Berry’s first encounter with law enforcement, as he was previously convicted in 2020 for attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

The incident sheds light on the prevalence of illegal gambling dens in neighborhoods like Flushing, which have historically been targeted by armed robbers seeking easy money. Despite efforts to crack down on such activities, the allure of illicit gambling continues to attract criminal elements, posing a challenge for law enforcement agencies tasked with maintaining public safety.

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