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Operation against illegal gambling leads to 1,400 arrests

Interpol's Operation SOGA VIII has led to thousands of raids and the arrest of around 1,400 suspects across Asia and Europe.

During the raids, authorities seized $7.9m in cash, and computers and mobile phones connected to almost $465m in bets.

The operation, coordinated by Interpol's Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption units, with support from the Asia-Pacific Expert Group on Organized Crime (APEG) and the Interpol Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF), took place across 28 countries simultaneously.

Head of Hong Kong Police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, and Chairman of Interpol's Asia-Pacific Expert Group on Organized Crime, Wong Wai, said: “Our collective experience helped us anticipate links between betting syndicates and their illegal counterparts during Euro 2020. This, ultimately, led us to organised crime groups acting on a global scale and generating huge profits."

In Hong Kong, police detained more than 800 suspects, including the alleged kingpin of a triad-controlled bookmaking syndicate, and have seized $2.7m in cash; on top of detaining records listing hundreds of millions in bets; this operation has been one of the most successful against illegal gambling in history.

While targetting organised crime groups looking to earn from illegal gambling and related money laundering activities, SOGA VIII received strong European participation, as well as from a range of law enforcement agencies.

Roberto Ribaudo, Director of Economic and Financial Crime Division at Interpol's National Central Bureau in Rome, said: “Italian authorities carried out a nationwide operation during Euro 2020, resulting in the inspection of 280 betting shops and €1.3m ($1.5m) in sanctions for illegal betting operations. Such international operations are key to the collective fight against illegal betting, but also in developing national and international cooperation frameworks.”

SOGA operations resulted in more than 19,100 arrests, seizures of over $63m in cash and the closure of more than 4,000 illegal gambling dens.

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