Image of the searches carried out by the National Police, together with Europol and Interpol agents, during the first phase of Operation Conifer, in June 2022.
It was 15 minutes past noon on June 21, 2022 when Luis Alberto LM, striker for CD Rota, a modest team from the Andalusian Second RFEF (the former Third Division), sat down accompanied by a public defender in front of two agents from the Center National Police for Integrity in Sports and Gambling (Cenpida).
A few hours earlier, he had been arrested as allegedly involved in the betting and match-fixing scheme dismantled between June and November of last year in the so-called Operation Coniferous, which has finally resulted in 44 arrests, including 20 active footballers from teams from the modest football, and six other people investigated more.
The interrogation takes place at the Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) police station and is not very long, just over 45 minutes,
but the footballer's responses leave no room for doubt.
"Was the match between [CD] Rota and CD Pozoblanco on April 24 [which ended with a 3-1 local victory] rigged?" Was the first question the agents asked him.
Luis Alberto's concise response left no room for doubt: "Yes, it was rigged."
More than 30 modest soccer matches rigged in three months
His testimony is one of the main pieces of evidence on corruption in modest soccer uncovered by the National Police in Operation Conifer.
There are already 37 meetings that are under suspicion, according to the count made by this newspaper of the data that appears in the summary.
There are 20 matches held in Spain (mostly from the First and Second RFEF, the old Second B and Third, although there are also friendlies), 11 in Gibraltar and six more in Andorra.
Most of them were played in just three months, from April to June 2022. These dates coincide with the last days of that season, one of the moments that police experts consider more prone to rigging, since that many teams do not play anything and there is a risk that some footballers lend themselves to this type of fraud.
In his statement, the CD Rota player details to the police how he contacted a footballer from the opposing team by phone and proposed to "make some kind of agreement with the result" so that all of them could bet through intermediaries (the players are prohibited from doing so in matches of the category in which they compete) and win a significant amount of money.
As he details in the statement, his interlocutor agreed, but did not want to agree on a victory or defeat, but rather the number of goals, which can give more benefits.
The following day, the Pozoblanco player proposed to Luis Alberto two options for the agreement: “More than 2.5 goals [scored in the match] or more than 3.5″.
The CD Rota footballer created a group to exchange messages with four teammates on the Telegram application with the idea of having them participate in the fix.
“With four or five players you ensure a match.
You do not need the entire staff ”, detail sources close to the investigation.
Among the participants in that group was Adrián RR, whom the Police consider one of the alleged ringleaders of the dismantled plot together with José Miguel BL, his friend and closely linked to Atlético Sanluqueño, a team that is also a member of the Second RFEF.
This second had experience in the field of gambling, where he had worked as what is known in the jargon as a
- betting advisor - before allegedly turning to the activity of the plot.
According to the investigations, the dismantled network functioned as something similar to a
, in which the players involved did not receive an amount for fixing the match they were playing, but instead obtained the benefit by betting through third parties thanks to the network created by the two alleged ringleaders.
The testimony of Luis Alberto points in this direction.
The footballer assured the agents that his interlocutor in the rival team tried to cancel the agreement because, as justified, the coach of his team had found out about it.
"I told my Rota teammates to withdraw all the money invested", both to the team's victory and to the fact that the result would be more than 2.5 goals, but they told him that they could no longer.
"I had put in 300 euros," the footballer acknowledged and that other colleagues had put in much higher amounts: "Up to 6,000 or 7,000 euros."
The footballer then added that, given the impossibility of withdrawing the bets, he tried to convince his teammate from Pozoblanco "for the agreement to go ahead", but that he told him that it "no longer depended on him".
After that conversation, he assured that he did not speak to any player from the rival team again.
However, the final result, 3-1 in favor of the local team, allowed them to pocket a significant amount.
According to the police reports incorporated into the summary, a bettor got a prize of 13,506 euros.
Luis Alberto justified his intervention in the arrangement in which his team did not pay him: "I have not been paid for five months, I have children and a delicate financial situation," he told the agents.
Police reports indicate that the plot pocketed close to 500,000 euros of profit.
35 bets in 100 seconds
The summary of Operation Conifer details that in one of the rigged matches, the one held between UD Montijo and UC Tamaraceite on May 15, 2022 and which ended with the score 1-7, six members of the plot coordinated to make 35 bets in just 100 seconds on such a massive away win.
A police report states that the "so compulsive" way of doing them in two bookmakers in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) caused their terminals to be blocked when they had only been able to play 1,430 euros.
Their intention was to do it for about 2,500, which would have brought them a prize of 9,320 euros.
Finally, they obtained a profit of 5,720 euros.
Despite the partial success, Adrián RR, one of the alleged ringleaders, bragged about it in a telephone conversation tapped by court order:
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