An operation targeting illegal soccer gambling in Asia during the World Cup has resulted in the arrests of over 5,000 people and the seizure of nearly $10 million, Interpol said on Friday.
Interpol said the operation, which ran from June 11 to July 11, was aimed at gambling linked to organised crime gangs.
“As well as having clear connections to organised crime gangs, illegal soccer gambling is also linked with corruption, money laundering and prostitution,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, executive director of police services. Interpol said police raided nearly 800 illegal gambling dens in the operation in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and China — including Hong Kong and casino haven Macau.
The illegal gambling dens had taken more than $155 million in bets, Interpol said.
Gambling is highly restricted in communist China, ensuring brisk trade for Macau in the country’s south, which has overtaken Las Vegas to become the world’s largest gambling market.
Police also seized cars, bank cards, computers and mobile phones during the raids, which were coordinated by Interpol’s general secretariat headquarters in Lyon and its Bangkok Liaison office.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong police said they had smashed a vast, cross-border bookmaking syndicate targeting the World Cup which had taken in around $1.3 billion of illegal bets.