INTERPOL Exposes Illegal Soccer Gambling Networks in Asia

July 17, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

A man on his cell phone walks past giant footballs in Beijing on June 23, 2010. Though gambling is outlawed in China, it has not stopped a thriving underground industry, which manifested in gambling syndicates and online betting during the World Cup.  (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
A man on his cell phone walks past giant footballs in Beijing on June 23, 2010. Though gambling is outlawed in China, it has not stopped a thriving underground industry, which manifested in gambling syndicates and online betting during the World Cup. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
The International Criminal Police Organization, has exposed illegal gambling networks across Asia that ran during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. More than 5,000 people were arrested and $10 million was seized in the operation codenamed SOGA III, INTERPOL reported on Friday.

During the month-long operation, from June 11 to July 11, police forces in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand raided nearly 800 illegal gambling dens that had accepted an estimated $155 million in bets, INTERPOL revealed.

“The results we have seen are impressive, not only in the number of arrests and seizures made across the region in just one month, but in terms of the police cooperation, which made this possible,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, INTERPOL’s executive director of Police Services, in a statement.

The police also seized cars, bankcards, computers, and mobile phones during the raids, which were coordinated by INTERPOL's headquarters in Lyon, France, and its Bangkok liaison office.

Louboutin said that the investigation had hit on corruption, money laundering, and prostitution as well as illegal soccer gambling, and that it had close connections to organized crime gangs.

The codename SOGA III, references two other installments of similar law enforcement activities named SOGA I and SOGA II conducted in 2007 and 2008.

In the three SOGA operations combined, police made nearly 7,000 arrests, seized over $26 million in cash, and closed down illegal gambling dens dealing in bets worth an estimated $2 billion.