MILAN/ROME (Reuters) - Police launched dawn raids across Europe on Wednesday against suspected pay-TV pirates, seizing equipment and shutting down services they said were sold illegally to millions of viewers, Italian authorities said.
Coordinated by European Union agencies Europol and Eurojust, police carried out the raids in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Bulgaria in an investigation into the role of organised crime in pay-TV piracy.
The investigation was born out inquiries that began in Italy where prosecutors in Rome and Naples found evidence of sophisticated, large-scale illegal subscription businesses. The pirates charged prices well below legal subscriptions.
The biggest illegal platform shut down on Wednesday, dubbed Xtream Codes, had around 50 millions users worldwide, Gianluca Berruti of the Italian tax police told Reuters.
It sold a bundled pay-TV service that included premium content from Comcast’s Sky Italia, Netflix, Mediaset, Dazn, for a monthly subscription of 12 euros, Berruti added.
More than 200 servers and digital equipment used to illegally distribute pay-TV content were seized on Wednesday, Eurojust said in a statement.
Twenty-two people suspected of having committed large-scale fraud, cybercrime and money laundering were identified, the agency added.
Reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan and Domenico Lusi in Rome; editing by Jason Neely and Giles Elgood