Cops on trail of illegal betting ‘super agents’

Mokhtar (second from right) and other police officers with the seized items. — file pic
Mokhtar (second from right) and other police officers with the seized items. — file pic

PETALING JAYA, June 21 — Police are targeting “super agents” believed to be the masterminds behind an illegal betting syndicate during the Fifa World Cup by interrogating detained bookies.

Since the beginning of the tournament more than a week ago, Kuala Lumpur and Johor police have arrested 32 bookies and hope to locate the agents, described as the prime movers in the syndicate.

Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the 31 bookies arrested in the state were merely runners gathering bets.

“If we want to cripple the entire syndicate, we have to track down the ‘super agents’. That will be the focus of our investigation,” he said.

Since Ops Soga was launched on June 13, Mokhtar said Johor police had nabbed 31 suspects believed to be involved in betting activities involving some RM1 million.

Mohktar said the 31 were arrested following checks on 311 people during 105 raids in various locations, including clubs and restaurants in Iskandar Malaysia.

Also confiscated during the raids were cash amounting to RM61,215 and S$5,650 (RM14,566), nine tablets, 30 mobile phones, seven WiFi modems and betting slips.

He said those arrested were aged between 20 and 40, and were being investigated for illegal betting. They can be fined up to RM200,000 and jailed a maximum five years if found guilty.

Mohktar also advised the public not to bet during the World Cup as the police would constantly monitor these activities.

Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Datuk Law Hong Soon said a bookie in his late 20s was detained following a tip-off on June 17.

“The suspect has been remanded and investigations are under way to determine which network he belongs to and the syndicate involved.”

Law said the police were working closely with Interpol to uncover international illegal betting syndicates with networks in Kuala Lumpur.

“The bookies here are just the runners. The betting is made through overseas servers, hence why we need to work with Interpol. They are leading the operations to locate the masterminds.”

Law said places with big-screen televisions screening World Cup matcheswere hotspots for illegal gambling.

“We are observing areas that have been identified as illegal gambling spots,” he said.

In Kuantan, police arrested five bookies involved in accepting bets of as much as RM100,000.

The five, in their 30s, were detained in raids over the past three days in Kuala Lipis and Temerloh.

Pahang CID chief Datuk Zakaria Ahmad said one suspect was detained while he was taking bets from several people at a restaurant, while the other two were detained as they were taking bets online.

Police also seized a total of RM1,680, a laptop and several mobile phones from the three men.

Zakaria said all three were linked to international betting syndicates via websites.

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