|In America, state and local police in New Jersey have arrested 42 people on charges including the promotion of gambling, conspiracy to promote gambling and marijuana possession.|
Following a seven-month investigation labelled Operation Off the Hook, officials in the eastern state stated that they had seized five million dollars from the group along with five pounds of marijuana and five vehicles.
Authorities said the ring handled about one million dollars a month in sportsbetting transactions and was controlled by known associates of the New York-based Genovese crime family.
It included a large network of ‘agents’ who served as operatives, said State Police Superintendent Joseph Fuentes, running individual gambling ‘packages’ over the telephone or on the Internet. These alleged operatives were then paid a ‘commission’ or a percentage of the profits being reaped by the organisation and were also tasked with meeting with individual bettors to pay out winnings or collect losses.
Police stated that bets were placed on a wide range of sporting events including college and professional sports as well as horse racing through an offshore ‘wire room’ located in the Dominican Republic, a move authorities said they are encountering more often as crime organisations try to insulate their operations from American police.
Bettors as well as ‘agents’ were given code names and passwords in an effort to prevent law enforcement officials from identifying them and would use these special monikers when communicating with the wire room.
Police stated that their investigations into gambling led to the discovery of a street-level drug distribution operation in northern New Jersey including crack cocaine, marijuana and the illegal sale of prescription narcotics.
The arrests come on the heels of December’s sweep by State Police and the Attorney General's Office that arrested 32 people linked to the New York-based Lucchese organised crime family.