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By Sam Cowie, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – R$3.9 million, suspected from Brazil’s numbers game, the ‘Jogo do Bicho’ (Animal Game), was seized on Tuesday morning from a luxury home in Barra da Tijuca, in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone). Police entered the property at 6AM hoping to find Helio de Oliveira, a suspected racketeer and also president of The Rio Grande Samba School in Duque de Caxias.

Police search found R$3.9 million in illicit gambling funds, Ri de Janeiro, Brazil News
Police search in connection to the Jogo do Bicho gambling racket found R$3.9 million, image recreation.

His lawyer, Gaspar Pegado Batista Júnior, was arrested at the scene for suspicion of destroying evidence as well as his uncle, Adilson Coutinho de Oliveira, the owner of the property.

A spreadsheet, detailing Duque de Caxias’ Jogo do Bicho proceeds at R$3 million for September alone, was found by police in the house. The cash was found in R$50 and R$100 bills hidden in false wall bottoms, the sewer system, attic and under plants.

The Head of Civil Police, Martha Rocha, said – “It is a proof that Jogo do Bicho is not just an innocent bet and that these gentlemen move fortunes without proof of origin.”

Like a lottery, Jogo do Bicho is operated on a regional basis.  Players bet of any amount of money, on various symbolic animals, instead of numbers like a conventional lottery. Dreams and superstition are often the determiners in selecting the correct animal.  Jogo do Bicho was officially banned in 1946, yet remains hugely popular.

Civil Police recently launched ‘operation finger of God’ in an attempt to crack down on the game, especially the involvement of politicians. Last Thursday, forty three people were arrested.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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