Agents of the National Police guard, on May 23, one of the premises registered in Melilla during the operation against the purchase of votes. Paqui Sanchez (EFE)
An investigation into the alleged match-fixing of a modest football team in Melilla provided key information that allowed the National Police, on May 23, to dismantle the alleged plot to buy votes by mail for the elections of the past 28-M that operated in the autonomous city and that shook the end of the campaign. As confirmed to EL PAÍS sources close to the investigation, during the investigations into fraud in sports betting that had as its epicenter the CD Huracán Melilla, a team of the Third RFEF (the fifth step of Spanish football), the agents intercepted with a judicial order a telephone conversation of the former president of this team, Felipe Heredia Núñez, in which he allegedly boasted of having obtained more than 500 votes for Coalition for Melilla (CpM). Heredia was arrested in May for electoral fraud and released on charges. This Tuesday he has been arrested again, this time for football fixing.
That information was added to that collected in the course of another police investigation, in this case about a drug retail network, which pointed to the existence of recruiters who toured the humble neighborhoods of the autonomous city in search of people willing to sell their suffrage in exchange for amounts ranging between 100 and 150 euros. With the data collected, the head of the Court of Instruction 2 of Melilla, María del Carmen Perles – the same that instructs the cause for the fixing of football matches – ordered five days before the elections the arrest of 10 people, including the then counselor of the Government andnumber three of the list of Coalition for Melilla for those elections, Mohamed Ahmed Al-lal, and a son-in-law of Mustafa Aberchan, leader of this party. Heredia was also among those arrested.
The investigations that led to that key puncture began on December 14, 2021, after the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, under the Ministry of Consumption) alerted the National Police that in the Copa de Rey match that CD Huracán and Levante UD had played two days earlier, who was then playing in Primera, had registered numerous suspicious bets, all of them made from Melilla. In them it was bet that the match would reach the break with victory of Levante by more than two goals and at the end of the match, by more than seven, according to detailed sources familiar with the investigation. The first half ended with a 0-4 and concluded with a 0-8.
To those investigations were incorporated at the beginning of this year the suspicions about the fixing of at least three other matches played by the CD Huracán. Specifically, these were those held between January 14 and February 19 against the teams UD Maracena, Huétor Vega and Arenas Armilla, all from the province of Granada. In each of them, the Melilla team conceded four goals. Suspicions suggest that those involved agreed both the defeat and the specific number of so many that were going to fit and made through third parties both face-to-face bets in establishments and through internet operators for these thrashings to increase profits.
Last February, Judge Perles ordered the arrest of six people for this alleged sports fraud, in addition to the fact that the Police took a statement as investigated to Heredia, who then announced his resignation as head of the club, in which he also served as coach and delegate. Only three months later, last May, the former president of CD Huracán Melilla was arrested again, but this time for the alleged purchase of postal votes for the 28-M elections.
As detailed by the State Attorney General, Álvaro García Ortiz, in the decree of May 26 by which he commissioned the investigations to the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, Heredia and the other detainees allegedly "would form an organized structure, with prior and concerted planning, and the purchase of votes would also be financed with part of the funds obtained by companies and individuals related to the political party indicated in public tenders, agreements, contracts and subsidies that would have been awarded during the last legislature in the autonomous city". Among the subsidies investigated is one that CD Huracán received precisely in April supposedly to finance their trips to the peninsula to play official matches when, paradoxically, the season is practically over.
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