Spanish-based crime network fixed matches in more than 20 countries including Bulgaria

European police cooperation agency Europol said on March 1 that it had supported the Spanish National Police in an investigation that led to the arrest of 53 suspects in Madrid and Guadalajara, in Spain.

The suspects acted as “betting mules” for a criminal organisation fixing sports events and defrauding betting houses.

The operation took place from January 29 to February 1 and was also supported by Interpol and the Spanish Tax Agency.

According to Spanish authorities, the criminal network fixed football, tennis and table tennis matches in more than 20 countries, including Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia and Bolivia.

The suspects sold their personal data and betting platform account details to the criminal network. With this information, the kingpins of the organisation would bet massively on predetermined results, defrauding betting houses and obtaining great economic benefits.

The investigation unveiled that the criminal organisation had control of over more than 1500 betting accounts and amassed winnings of an estimated value of two million euro.

In parallel, the criminals used sophisticated technology to manipulate livestreams by intercepting satellite signals and capturing feed content. This allowed them to access the live signal ahead of the betting houses and place massive winning bets.

The criminal network had also created a complex system to launder the money acquired from gambling. The suspects are now charged with being members of a criminal organisation, defrauding gambling operators and money laundering.

The operation is the second phase of an investigation that started in 2020 and had already led to the arrest of 22 suspects, including both leaders of the criminal organisation. In total, it has now led to 75 suspects arrested (22 arrests in the first phase and 53 in the second phase).

There have been seizures of 13 000 euro in counterfeit banknotes, two large satellite dishes and signal receivers, 47 bank accounts, 80 telephone terminals, electronic devices, documentation, and cash, as well as parabolic antennas, signal receivers and IT equipment.

(Photo: Juan Carlos Arellano)

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