Some 1,400 people were arrested and $7.9 million in cash was seized by Interpol in a global operation against illegal gambling. The operation was conducted during Euro 2020 across Europe and Asia. Overall, 28 countries participated in SOGA VIII, fighting against illegal gambling.
Interpol Unveils Details Regarding SOGA VIII
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) revealed details regarding its latest operation, SOGA VIII (short for soccer gambling), this past Tuesday. The operation was conducted during the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship and resulted in thousands of arrests, as well as the seizure of millions in cash, computers and mobile phones. Interpol revealed that 28 countries participated in SOGA VIII and there were 1,400 suspects arrested in Europe, as well as in Asia. $7.9 million in cash was seized and the computers and mobile phones are said to be linked to nearly $465 million in bets.
The operation targeted illegal gambling organizations that generate profits for organized crime groups. SOGA VIII was conducted in collaboration between INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption units, the Asia-Pacific Expert Group on Organized Crime (APEG), as well as the INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF).
Another Successful Operation Fighting Illegal Gambling
During SOGA VIII, Interpol observed significantly increased activities on social media, forums and gaming platforms. The Agency revealed that it found individuals that would offer gambling tips or even payment to people who are willing to open online bank accounts that are used for money transfers.
This year’s operation showed a clear shift to online activities, with criminals taking full advantage of financial technology, including the use of international gambling websites and online bank accounts,”
reads a statement released by Interpol
Undoubtedly, Interpol’s operations significantly reduce the influence and number of illegal gambling rings. During the eight operations that the Agency has conducted, there were more than 19,100 arrests. To date, Interpol has seized more than $63 million in cash and closed more than 4,000 illegal gambling operations that handled more than $7.3 billion in bets.
Raids in Europe and China Conducted during Euro 2020
During Euro 2020, authorities in Italy inspected 280 betting shops and some $1.5 million in fines were issued for illegal gambling operations. Roberto Ribaudo, Director of Economic and Financial Crime Division at INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Rome deemed SOGA VIII a “key to the collective fight against illegal betting.” Additionally, he acknowledged that such operations help develop both national and international cooperation frameworks.
Elsewhere, in China, more than 800 suspects were arrested by the Hong Kong Police. Additionally, Interpol revealed that Chinese authorities have arrested an alleged kingpin of a triad-controlled bookmaking syndicate. SOGA VIII marked the most successful operation against illegal gambling in the country as police seized $2.7 million in cash and records for hundreds of millions of bets.
Wong Wai, Head of Hong Kong Police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau and Chairman of INTERPOL’s Asia-Pacific Expert Group on Organized Crime, revealed that, through collective experience, the police were able to discover links between betting syndicates and their illegal operations. Consequently, he outlined that those links brought the authorities to “organized crime groups acting on a global scale and generating huge profits.”