Vietnam police bust biggest gambling ring of Euro 2012 season

TN News

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Vietnamese police arrested seven people on Thursday, seizing cars, guns and other weapons worth billions of dong in the biggest gambling bust so far during the Euro 2012 football tournament.

Colonel Ho Sy Tien, head of the Ministry of Public Security's Criminal Police, said the department coordinated with the Cyber Crime department and police in Hanoi and nearby Bac Ninh Province, to shut down the ring.

The alleged leader, Pham Van Cuong, 33, was arrested along with six other members for gambling and possessing illegal weapons, the police said.

Police seized eight guns with hundreds of bullets, ten knives and swords, and three clubs. Six cars, several fax machines and laptops, as well as nearly VND500 million and US$2,600 in cash and credit cards with limits in the billions of dong were also seized.

Cuong also sent out ring members as loan sharks, using the weapons to recover debts when necessary.

Police said the operation was merely a branch of a larger operation being run from overseas. They are investigating the money flowing in and out of the ring every day and are hunting for more people involved.

Earlier this week, ministry forces arrested 26 people for orchestrating a football gambling ring based in the Mekong Delta Province of Dong Thap.

Members of the ring said they accepted bets up to VND100 million (US$4,800) and that the ring earned around VND50-70 million every day. Police however, say the ring's profit margins were much higher.

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Police said most transactions were completed either online or via mobile phones.

At a conference last week, Colonel Nguyen Thanh Hoa, head of the ministry's cyber crime department said football gambling is getting more "high-tech," with around 30 new websites cropping up each day, making the situation harder for police to control.

More than 180 gambling sites have been shut down in Vietnam since June 5 as part of the ministry's effort to crack down gambling during the Euro 2012.

But IT experts from several network providers said that gamblers continue to find ways to place bets online, often through chatrooms and social networking sites.

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