February 14, 2022 3 min read

Wanted Turkish Crime Leader Arrested in Killing of Casino Boss

Things in the gambling industry used to be hard. In fact, the industry has always had a bit of a bad rep. Even Las Vegas was founded by mobsters who saw a way to launder their ill-gotten gains in the casinos. While Las Vegas has moved past its origins, elsewhere around the world crime and casinos continue to be associated. This is the fate of Halil Falyalı, a casino owner who was gunned down along with his driver in a drive-by in Çatalköy, Cyprus.

Falyalı Death Leads to a Wanted Criminal’s Arrest

The killing of Falyalı elicited a swift response by police in Turkey with authorities apprehending five individuals, among them notorious gangster Mustafa Söylemez. Söylemez is the leader of the Söylemez Brothers, a feared criminal organization in Turkey. The man himself has been on the lam since 2004, and his arrest on February 9 surprised many.

Why would Söylemez go after Falyalı? The link is not immediately clear and short of reports by Demirören News Agency about the arrest in connection to the victim’s killing, not much else is immediately clear.

Falyalı owned the five-star Les Ambassadeurs Hotel & Casino in Cyprus and he was allegedly involved in running a number of online betting sites, Istanbul media BirGun reported. Falyalı made most of his fortune in the wake of Turkey’s decision to outlaw gambling with Cyprus quickly turning into a hotbed for such operations.

Partners in Crime or Rivals Settling Scores

He also faced numerous challenges in his personal life. In 2015, he was accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation to smuggle drugs into the UK. He then used the money and laundered them in the United States.

This brought charges against him but Falyalı could not be extradited because the place where he lived, Northern Cyprus, is still not recognized as a sovereign nation and is often the cause of geopolitical tension.

According to the reports of his death, his death may also have something to do with the killing of Safak Mahmutyazicioglu, a former director for Turkey soccer team Besiktas. Either way, he must have done something to cross the Söylemez Brothers who gained their notoriety in the 1990s and were linked to arms and drug trafficking in Turkey.

In fact, Mustafa and many of his fellow members were released in 2002, after their arrests in 1996, as the country tried to reduce its prison overpopulation. Just two years after, a new arrest warrant was issued for Mustafa who had fled to several countries, including Iran and Azerbaijan. His arrest in the possible connection to the killing of Falyalı had surprised many, media wrote.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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