The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service have indicted a number of individuals in California allegedly connected with an illegal telephone and online sports credit betting operation. Tuesday’s action, which was led by the US Attorney for the Southern District of California following an investigation that began in 2011, targeted Panama-licensed Macho Sports International Corporation, doing business as MachoSports.com. Some 18 individuals have been charged with racketeering conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs and running an illegal gambling business. If convicted, the accused face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250k.
Some 15 individuals have been arrested in San Diego, Los Angeles as well as in Oslo, Norway and Lima, Peru, with arraignments expected on Wednesday afternoon. The FBI has also served seizure warrants for property worth over $5m, including a La Jolla residence “obtained by conspirators with proceeds from the illegal gambling conspiracy.” The US Attorney claims Macho Sports handled “millions of dollars” in sports wagers over the last decade from punters in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.
Macho Sports – whose .com website has curiously not yet been taken offline – appears to have been a classic credit betting operation, with agents, sub-agents and runners providing customers with account numbers and passwords to access the site, then distributing winnings or collecting losses when appropriate. The website states that it’s been in business since 1992 and has “strategic partners throughout South America, Western Europe, East Asia and Australia.” Macho Sports also claims it accepts “all action requested by our players, including action up to $50k per play.”
The indictment accuses California natives Jan Harald Portocarrero and Erik Portacarrero (the latter was arrested in Norway) with setting up Macho Sports in Lima, Peru, following the brothers’ previous arrests and convictions for gambling offenses in the US. The Macho Sports outfit is accused of collecting on losing wagers through “intimidation, threats and violence as well as fostering a violent reputation to its treatment of delinquent customers.” The indictment cites wiretapped conversations in which Macho Sports’ principals discuss kidnapping and “pistol-slapping” laggard bettors, although it’s not specified whether any of these tactics were actually employed.