PLANO -- The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas called the raid of an alleged gambling the largest book-making case in the history of the division.
In a news conference Thursday, authorities said federal agents and the Plano Police Department worked together for years to shut down the illegal sports gambling ring that accepted an estimated $5.4 billion in illegal bets on professional and college sporting events. The ring began in North Texas but grew into a corporate identity that was based on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
Among items seized were houses, cars, millions of dollars in cash and items purchased with illegal proceeds.
"Taking away the assets from these illegal organizations hits criminals where it hurts the most — it deprives them of their profits," said Madie Branch, an agent with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS led the investigation along with Plano police.
John M. Bales, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, said the investigation began with a citizen's tip in 2006.
"The tip was an excellent one and it suggested there was a book-making operation in the neighborhood," Bales said. "There was and the scope was dramatic and spread all over the metroplex and many other states as well."
Of the $10 million seized during the investigation, nearly half went to the Plano Police Department. Federal authorities presented a check to police at Thursday's news conference for nearly $4.8 million from forfeited assets.
During the probe, officers and agents posed as gamblers, placing more than 300 bets over the Internet.
Armed with 79 warrants, authorities seized items autographed jerseys and helmets from high-profile athletes such as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. Cleats autographed by Tiger Woods were also taken during the raid.
The investigation resulted in the 2011 arrests of 18 men primarily from North Texas, who have all pleaded guilty to various charges such as money laundering, illegal gambling and tax violations.
The investigation found the 18 men were operating 25 different websites, with defendants providing bettors unique login information. Once logged in, the bettors were directed to either toll-free phone numbers or other websites to place wagers.
Albert Sydney Reed Jr., 57, of Southlake, is the only one to have received prison time so far. He was given a year in prison after being convicted of operating an illegal gambling business.
Eleven others have received probation and the other six men are awaiting sentencing. The men's ages range from 36 to 78 years old.
The Associated Press contributed to this report