Posted on: December 14, 2022, 07:09h. 

Last updated on: December 14, 2022, 12:39h.

Following a crackdown by police in Argentina, more than 30 people were rounded up and charged with different roles in support of illegal gambling. The majority of them have now learned their fate following massive group trials this week.

Courthouse in Argentina
A courthouse in the city of Cordoba in Argentina. More than 30 people involved in a major illegal gambling operation have now learned their sentences. (Image: Pinterest)

In a public hearing held on Tuesday, a judge sentenced six people for organizing and operating illegal gambling. The judge also found them guilty of organized crime, defrauding the state, and bribery.

Another 14 are guilty of organizing illegal gambling and operating as “affiliates” for the network – recruiting new players to gambling platforms they knew were illegal. In addition, the judge found them guilty of defrauding the state. But the sentences these 20 received are relatively tame.

Getting Off Light

The 20 defendants all received sentences of three years in prison, all suspended. They’ll serve probation and avoid time behind bars provided they register their residence with the police, avoid drugs, and alcohol, and don’t break any more laws.

In addition, they will have to get a legitimate job and take a course for responsible gambling. The latter requirement must be fulfilled on or before June 30 of next year.

Lawyers on both sides agreed to the sentence to prevent the case from dragging on for months or possibly years.

The judge presiding over the case, Claudia Bressán, also ordered that the money seized in the raids, which took place in November 2019, be turned over to the state. Some 80% will go to the province of Santa Fe, where the activity and trial took place, with the remainder going to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Police seized ARS5,737,914 (US$33,400) and US$31,935 when they made their arrests.

A leader of the gambling ring, Adrián Mai, had additional charges against him. Prosecutors accused him of possession of an illegal firearm and sought up to six years and six months in prison. He’ll avoid that for now.

The “Little Bird” Falls

In another hearing, which took place via a Zoom call the same day, prosecutors presented their case against José Sixto Rossi, alias “Pajarito,” or “little bird” in Spanish. The 84-year-old was one of the masterminds behind the criminal group and faced charges of illegal gambling, organized crime, bribery, and illegal possession of a firearm.

Rossi must pay civil reparation of ARS5 million (US$29,105) to Santa Fe. He will have to make equal payments over the next three months in order to avoid another arrest. In making the deal, prosecutors dropped the firearm possession charge.

Others had to answer for their involvement on Tuesday. In a separate trial, 10 women who assisted the group received two years of probation with the same conditions as the others. They will also have to carry out community service in a designated public welfare institution.

Two more still have to answer in court for their involvement. Their cases are pending for unspecified reasons, but prosecutors are trying to make a probation deal similar to what the others received.

This past April, a court case involving two others laid the groundwork for what was to come. They were allegedly the duo who began the entire scheme and received conditional releases and suspended sentences.