Hong Kong police have broken up a suspected triad-controlled bookmaking syndicate believed to have taken in more than HK$120 million (US$15.4 million) in illegal football bets, arresting the alleged ringleader and two others in a raid on the hotel room the group used as its headquarters. Officers raided the makeshift operations centre in Hung Hom shortly after the Euro 2020 football match between England and Denmark ended on Thursday morning, seizing more than HK$10 million in cash, and betting records accounting for many millions more, along with banknote counters, phones and computers, Chief Inspector Cheung Siu-lok of the organised crime and triad bureau said. “The cash seized in this operation was the biggest sum in a crackdown of this kind in recent years,” Cheung said on Friday. He added that an investigation indicated the illegal betting ring had been in operation for about a year. According to the force, the racket turned the hotel room into its operations base, taking bets online and over the phone. The transactions between its bookies and punters were conducted in cash. “We believe they tried to use cash in transactions to make our investigation more difficult,” Cheung said, adding “the syndicate took more than HK$10 million in illegal bets each month”. Some of the bets, he noted, were for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The three suspects, aged 26 to 38, believed to be members of the Sun Yee On triad society, were rounded up at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis shortly after daybreak on Thursday. Officers also raided the suspects’ homes in Kowloon and the New Territories to gather evidence. 3 men arrested over theft of 200 free Covid-19 testing kits In addition to the 38-year-old alleged mastermind of the syndicate, police also arrested two assistants who were responsible for running the operations centre and collecting the bets. Police arrested the trio on suspicion of bookmaking and operating a premises for facilitating bookmaking. “We believe our operation has successfully broken up the bookmaking syndicate,” Cheung said. However, police said the operation was ongoing and did not rule out further arrests. Thursday’s bust was the second major anti-bookmaking operation in three weeks. On June 20, officers from the same bureau broke up an even more lucrative syndicate suspected of taking in more than HK$3.4 billion in illegal bets on horse racing and football matches in the first four months of this year. It was the largest amount of illegal betting records seized in a single operation in a decade. Hong Kong police break up HK$3.4 billion triad-run gambling ring Police arrested 18 people in that operation, seizing HK$8.5 million in cash and freezing 70 bank accounts containing another HK$19.5 million in suspected criminal proceeds. Pointing out that the European Championship football tournament was still ongoing, Cheung said police would continue to crack down on illegal gambling. Under the Gambling Ordinance, anyone convicted of bookmaking faces a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a HK$5 million fine. Betting with a bookmaker is punishable by up to nine months in prison and a HK$30,000 fine.