California jail

Two Brothers Get Jail Time for Running an Illegal California Sports Betting Ring

Two brothers who ran an illegal multimillion dollar bookmaking operation out of California have been sentenced to federal jail time.

Jan Harold Portocarrero and Erik Portocarrero struck a plea deal with prosecutors and were sentenced to 18 and 22 months in jail respectively, and have been ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 each.

The men provided sports betting services to gamblers in Los Angeles and San Diego through their company Macho Sports, which began operation around the time of the 1995 Super Bowl. After feeling the heat from Golden State law enforcement, the men decided to move their operation to Peru, and set up a call center where they could take bets from players all over the world. They were later charged with operating an illegal gambling business and fled to Norway.

Extradition granted

The men were keen on not going to prison and waged a 22 month battle to avoid extradition to the US. In 2013, authorities caught up with Jan in Los Angeles, and got their hands on Erik when Norway decided to cooperate with US authorities and extradite him.

As part of its investigation, the FBI arrested 18 members of the Macho Sports organization, including Amir Mokayef, the outfit’s main bookie. Mokayef was in charge of bringing in new gamblers and collecting when they refused to pay up. To achieve that task, Mokayef was not shy of using violence; on one occasion, FBI agents observed the man beating up a gambler who was in the hole with the organization. All 18 of the former members have now pleaded guilty.

In addition to their jail sentences and fines, the brothers were forced to forfeit $3 million worth of assets in the US and Norway, and handed over a $1.7 million check to the state. Mokayef’s home was seized along with $65,000 in cash, due to his involvement in the bookmaking operation.

“After running an international racketeering organization for two decades, Jan and Erik Portocarrero finally faced American justice today,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Despite attempting to evade U.S. law enforcement by moving their sophisticated operations to Peru and Norway, they must now face substantial custodial sentences and millions in forfeitures. No longer can their global Macho Sports enterprise engage in violence, threats and intimidation to amass illegal profits.”

Federal authorities began investigating Macho Sports in 2011, and employed the use of wiretaps and undercover agents to get an inside look at the sports book.

In a similar case last year, FBI agents busted a countrywide ring which serviced sports bettors from California to New York. Also nabbed was “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom who set up exclusive high-stakes poker cash games for Hollywood celebrities and high-powered businessmen. Bloom asserted that she was not involved in the gambling side of the ring and had only helped to set up the games for her wealthy patrons. In February of last year, a judge sentenced her to 200 hours of community service and ordered her to pay a fine of $1,000.