Alleged violent gambling ring busted

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Eighteen members of what prosecutors called a violent
gambling ring located mainly in California and Peru were charged with operating
an illegal Internet and telephone wagering business called “Macho Sports,”
according to a federal indictment unsealed in San Diego Wednesday.

According to the indictment, participants in the scheme are accused of
taking millions of dollars in illegal sports wagers over the last decade in the
San Diego and Los Angeles areas. Fourteen of the defendants were arrested today
in a series of FBI raids in both counties.

Charges include racketeering conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs
and running an illegal gambling business.

“This case highlights the connection between illegal Internet gambling
operations and the violence associated with this type of racketeering
activity,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn said. “Criminal
enterprises like Macho Sports and their U.S.-based `bookmakers' prey on the
gambling addictions of their betting customers, wreaking havoc on people's
lives and the lives of family members.”

In addition to the arrests made today in Southern California, foreign
law enforcement counterparts arrested defendant Erik Portocarrero in Oslo,

FBI agents also executed warrants seeking the forfeiture of at least $5
million in property associated with Macho Sports, including a La Jolla property
obtained by conspirators with proceeds from the illegal operation, authorities

The FBI investigation, which started in 2011, included wiretaps and
undercover agents.

According to the indictment, Jan Harald Portocarrero, 40, and Erik
Portocarrero, 42, ran Macho Sports from Lima, Peru, using the Internet and toll-
free telephone lines to accept bets from customers in California.

The organization ensured the prompt payment of gambling debts through
the use of intimidation, threats and violence, as well as fostering a violent
reputation regarding its treatment of delinquent customers, according to the

Although originally from California, the Portocarrero brothers set up
Macho Sports first in Panama and later in Peru after suffering previous
gambling arrests or convictions in the United States, according to the

In addition to its telephone and Internet operations, Macho Sports used
teams of bookies — such as Amir Mokayef, operating primarily in San Diego, and
Joseph Barrios, operating mainly in Los Angeles — who were responsible for
recruiting customers, paying off winning bets and collecting on losing bets,
the indictment stated.

Categories: KUSI