Italian Police Bust Mob-Tied Criminal Gang with Its Hands in Illegal Gambling, Money Laundering

Following an extensive investigation, Italian police have dismantled an illegal gambling and money laundering outfit. Over 71 people face charges for their role in the multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Italian mafia
Italian mafia
Police arrest a member of the Comorra criminal organziation. Other members fell recently, bringing to an end a major illegal gambling operation. (Image: The Guardian)

Laundering dirty money through a complex system of betting, especially sports and gambling. That’s the basis of indictments the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Salerno, Italy used when it charged 18 suspects, according to local media outlet Calabria 7. However, the enterprise was busy doing much more than just laundering money.

The alleged criminals face accusations of mafia-type criminal association. This link led to the building of an empire that committed a series of crimes in the field of illegal games and bets, money laundering and reuse of proceeds of crime in economic activities, according to the indictment. In addition, the accused committed the acts in order to facilitate various criminal organizations contiguous to the Camorra, the Casalesi and other mafias.

Walls of Gomorrah Crumble

A police investigation uncovered the extent of the operations and many of the leaders. Among the suspects are Giuseppe Carnovale, known as Pepo in the underground world, and Luigi Giuseppe Cirillo. The latter is the son of the late boss of a mafia organization operating out of Salerno.

The investigators believe Cirillo was the head and promoter of the alleged organization. He used a holding company to hide the activity, which included illicit online gaming domestically and abroad. The business allegedly has ties to the leaders of the Casalesi mafia out of southern Italy, a group that became the subject of a novel by Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah.

Carnovale, according to the hypotheses of the prosecutors, covered the administration of the operation starting in July 2016. He managed the commercial activity at the national level, but not the direct control over the percentages to be distributed to the various management levels of an illegal online gambling platform.

He also controlled the integration and movement of some sites within the system. Carnovale is from Calabria, which already has a troubled past with organized crime. Also, according to the accusatory hypotheses, the association earned €5 billion (US$5.26 billion) in two years. Most of that was for the Casalesi clan.

Some suspects, according to the investigators, belong to gangs of the Camorra and other mafias operating on Italian territory. The organization had set up a complex international system that allowed them to launder the dirty money of the Camorra through illegal betting and gambling that they managed themselves, allowing the clans to obtain clean money.

Day in Court

The Court of Salerno has set the preliminary hearing for June 6. In total, as the investigation continues, there are at least 71 people facing charges that run the entire gambit – from petty crimes to money laundering and murder. However, because the activity is related to organized crimes, the penalties can be more severe.

So far, the investigation has found 11 websites and two offices the group used to conduct their operations. However, more details may surface as the accused look to cut a deal.

The case is reminiscent of Operation Double Game from last year. That investigation dismantled a mafia-led enterprise that conducted illegal gambling and money laundering across the European Union.

That scandal led to the arrest of over 336 people. More than a few gave up what they knew in order to protect themselves from prosecution.

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