Three people were arrested and 16 West Florida businesses and homes searched Tuesday in a crackdown on "satellite piracy." The arrests follow an 18-month FBI investigation into the sale of devices that let people watch premium cable television stations free by unscrambling satellite signals.
A federal grand jury last week indicted five people, including John Anthony, 31, of Tampa, on charges of selling the descramblers.
FBI Special Agent Brian Kensel said cable television providers had complained that the satellite piracy was putting them out of business. Almost half of the satellite dishes sold in the nation use illegal descramblers, the FBI said.
Also arrested on Tuesday were Neal Golonska, 30, of Port Charlotte and Robert Foreman, 31, of Lakeland. Four Tampa Bay businesses were searched Tuesday and one home in Dade City. The FBI said the businesses were commercial satellite television retail stores and satellite television technicians' workshops in Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.