Catherine Ross, NBC 5 Collin County Reporter
Federal agents, the IRS and the Plano police busted a $5 billion online sports betting operation thanks to a tip.
The Plano Police Department received a check for nearly $5 million Thursday after assisting in the dismantling of a large Internet-based gambling operation with ties to Texas.
U.S. Attorney John Bales and IRS Special Agent in Charge Madie Branch handed the Plano police a check for $4,753,841.40 in an asset sharing ceremony at police headquarters.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, the Plano police began an undercover investigation in 2006 into a bookmaker. According to the DOJ, that bookmaker was connected to a larger organization operating an offshore sports book in Willemstad Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
Through the investigation, 18 North Texas residents were identified as conspirators who accepted wagers on college and professional sports through 25 websites hosted in Curacao.
"The defendants provided bettors with a personal login code and password to facilitate the placement of wagers through the websites and to disguise their identities. Bettors were then directed to specific websites or to toll free numbers operated by the websites where the bettors placed wagers on sporting events," the DOJ said in a news release Thursday.
On March 3 and 4, 2011, 32 federal search warrants were executed at residences, offices and safe-deposit boxes of the defendants. Additionally, 47 seizure warrants were executed to seize bank and investment accounts, cars and property.
In 2012, NBC 5's Scott Gordon reported the IRS said the gambling ring collected $1 billion a year and as many as 35,000 phone calls a month.
"The investigation disclosed that this illegal Internet wagering organization generated in excess of $5.4 billion in gross wagers resulting in approximately $200 million in illegal earnings to the defendants from January 2007 to February 2011.
All 18 of the defendants have pleaded guilty to various criminal violations ranging from money laundering to tax violations. Additionally, more than $10 million has been forfeited to the U.S. Government.