A Mafia-run illegal gambling ring that made more than $5million in just 2 years has been busted in the south of Italy, with 71 people facing charges ranging from criminal association to money laundering…
The criminal group based in the small town of Mercato San Severino, close to Salerno, is allegedly run by the Venosa-Schiavone faction of the Casalesi Clan.
The Casalesi Clan, based north of Naples, were made famous by Roberto Saviano’s best-selling book ‘Gomorrah’ and the award-winning film of the same name.
They have previously been accused of mafia association, extortion, intimidation, fraud, drugs trafficking and dealing, illegal arms possession and receiving stolen goods, as well as numerous murders.
This most recent bust, however, centres on illegal online gaming, with assets worth €3m ($3.24m) seized from 11 websites and two offices.
The Camorra-backed group had been using .eu and .com domain names illegally, Italian law only allowing state-licensed online gambling enterprises through their Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM).
Reports state that up to 71 people are looking at charges brought by prosecutors Giancarlo Russo and Francesca Fittipaldi of the Naples Local Antimafia Directorate (DDA).
News of the bust follows last year’s massive Operation Double Game hit on Mafia-run gambling, which netted €88.65m ($95.8m) in illegal money across the EU.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) investigated 336 individuals in the Italian regions of Sicily, Puglia, Emiliana Romagna, as well as Germany, Poland and Malta.
The OCCRP report stated “Maltese online gambling is an infamous cash cow” for Italian criminals, with the Santapaola-Ercolano clan running an illegal betting empire while basing their servers in Malta.
The authorities claim that organised crime syndicates have infiltrated the market by making deals with the owners of legitimate sites, with the Santapaola-Ercolano version netting more than more than €62 million.
Previous operations have uncovered numerous links between Italy and Malta, with the Dipartimento Investigativo Antimafia (DIA) noting in 2018:
“Thanks to a privileged fiscal system and a rapid process to set up a company, in the last few years, Malta attracted large investments, even from Italian criminal organisations”.
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