More than 90 suspects have been arrested and 3,000 bank accounts frozen as police broke up a major international online gambling ring that had one million members and receipts totaling 500 billion yuan ($112 billion), the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.
Police in Guangdong and Hunan provinces closed down more than 500 underground gambling websites linked to the ring, which had web servers in China's Taiwan and gamblers and technicians in Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines, the ministry said. The majority of gamblers were from the Chinese mainland.
"Due to people seeking huge benefits, and loopholes in social management, large numbers of people have become addicted to gambling, posing a serious threat to family harmony and social stability," a ministry statement said.
The ring was uncovered last August when Yueyang police in Hunan discovered a member logged on to a gambling website in a local Internet bar. An investigation revealed more than 500 similar suspicious websites, all registered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
In March, the ministry set up a special investigation team and deployed Guangdong and Hunan police to locate the ring leaders.
In July police conducted raids in five cities in Guangdong, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shantou, arrested 84 suspects, and destroyed 12 gambling networks. Accounts at 14 commercial banks were frozen.
In September, Guangdong police arrested a 40-year-old man surnamed Xu, head of the ring from Shantou and some main technical personnel during a raid in Shenzhen.
According to the ministry, the ring was a sophisticated operation with strict management, shareholders and agents tasked with attracting high-rolling gamblers.
Earlier in March, police in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province broke up a multinational ring involving a website in the Philippines that attracted Chinese punters. Police seized more than 80 million yuan in funds.
In the information age, Internet crime has become one of the top concerns in the country and the Ministry of Public Security called for a national effort in cracking down on Internet crime.
More than 1,980 cases involving online prostitution, gambling and gun-selling have been busted, while more than 120 cross-regional criminal gangs have been destroyed and 5,100 suspects captured, according to Xinhua.