FBI agents in Southern California served search and arrest warrants Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing investigation involving an international sports gambling ring, according to officials.
Criminal Complaint: "Macho Sports" Investigation
Eighteen members of a group working mainly in California and Peru were arrested and charged with operating "Macho Sports" — an illegal Internet and telephone gambling business, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Four people were arrested abroad and 14 were arrested in Southern California. One arrest was made at a La Jolla home owned by Amir Mokayef, confirmed FBI spokesperson Darrell Foxworth.
Local news from across Southern California
The investigation has been going on since 2011 and employed wiretaps and undercover agents.
Officials called the gambling ring "violent," and participants allegedly took millions of dollars in illegal sports wagers over the last decade in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.
According to the indictment, brothers Jan and Erik Potocarrero ran Macho Sports from Lima, Peru, using the Internet and toll-free telephone lines to accept bets from customers in California. They then utilized bookies in Southern California to assist with operations.
Officials claim Mokayef was a bookie responsible for recruiting customers and collecting on bets. They also believe the La Jolla home was purchased with illegal funding.
Others arrested Wednesday were Michael Iaco, 30; Howard Blum, 51; Michael Massey, 44; and Salvatore Groppo, 37. Mokayef allegedly served as the booking manager for the men and worked with them to pay and collect bets.