During the past week, highly trained assault squads of the Rio de Janeiro Police in conjunction with the Brazilian army tactical assault teams and special operation units raided dozens of suspected illegal gambling and bingo locations throughout the city. The mega-operation, in compliance with Brazilian gambling laws, was carried out under the official name of ‘Operation Strangulation III’, and closed down the majority of illegal slot and bingo rooms within Rio.
More than 410 people were arrested on illegal gambling related charges in what is being described by police as – ‘the most powerful blow to the illegal Brazilian bingo industry in the history of the country.’ Critics, as well as Brazilian gambling news websites question the motives behind such a show of force during a time when gun battles between police and well entrenched organized crime networks in the city’s favelas (slums) occur on an almost daily basis.
Machine gun toting, masked Special Forces units wearing helmets and body armor used flash grenades to enter bingo rooms operated out of private apartments and businesses. The majority of the perpetrators are female with an average age of 59. Police confiscated a wealth of evidence, including bingo cards, scoreboards, stamps and one safe. A total of 45 slot and video poker machines were confiscated as well.
All evidence was immediately sent for analysis to the Institute of Criminology Carlos Eboli (ICCE). Critics believe the police raid took place before the world renowned Brazilian Carnival in an effort to close down bingo and slot operations that refused additional police protection. Internet bingo in Brazil is not regulated, yet no licensed websites exists within the country.