Dozens of illegal soccer betting houses across Asia have been shut down in an operation coordinated by Interpol, the global police organization announced on Monday.
Police in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam took part in the ongoing operation which began on Oct. 24, the body's subdirector for the fight against organized crime and drugs told reporters.
"It is no secret that Asians are big gamblers and illegal betting is on the rise, bringing with it the risk of corruption, pressure on matches and the manipulation of results," Emmanuel Leclaire said.
The operation has so far led to the detention of 187 people in China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as the seizure of US$636,000, he said.
"It is a sort of warning to amateurs, to show them that the police can coordinate themselves at the international level to strike against criminals wherever they are," Leclaire said.
The operation follows the establishment last year by Interpol of Project Asian Organized Crime, which aims to fight the global expansion of Asian crime networks through intelligence-sharing.
At the same time Interpol began research on illegal soccer gambling and Asian crime networks with a view to mounting tactical operations.
"Before there was very little information sharing between Asia, Europe, North America and the different regions of the world regarding Asian organized crime," said Leclaire.
Delegates from 144 of the 186 member states that belong to Interpol were in Marrakech for the four-day annual conference that began on Monday.