Hong Kong Police Make 48 Arrest as Triad Crackdown Continues

Hong Kong police officers performed seven raids across the city and made 48 arrestes as they clamp down on triad activity.

Police in Hong Kong made 48 arrests this week as the crackdown on suspected triad activity continued. All 48 arrests in the Chinese Special Administrative Region were related to illegal gambling dens. Hong Kong authorities are piecing together the details but have concluded the gambling ring is tied to a well-known triad.

The Hong Kong police swooped on seven different locations in the early hours of July 21. Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, and Yuen Long were among the venues police raided. Officers seized several million Hong Kong dollars worth of cash, vehicles, and jewellery.

Superintendent Lui Sze-ho revealed the haul from operation “Steepland.”

“In the operation, officers seized HK$2 million ($403,750), two sports cars worth HK$2.4 million ($440,450), and ten luxury watches with an estimated value of HK$3.5 million ($642,350).”

A top-of-the-range Porsche was one of the seized sportscars. The watches included a Rolex and a Patek Philippe.

Hong Kong Police Link Gambling Dens to Triads

Superintendent Lui’s team arrested 35 men and 13 women in the series of raids. A ringleader, 12 core triad members, and 35 gamblers made up the arrested citizens. The suspected mastermind of the operation is Shui Fong Kui, who has links to the Wo O Lok triad faction.

“The syndicate set up shell companies and laundered the crime proceeds generated from illegal gambling businesses through the firms to buy luxury cars and watches and obtain cash,” said Lui. “They turned flats in old buildings into their gambling dens and hired lookouts and bouncers at each venue. The operation has successfully dealt a heavy blow to the syndicate, hit their income sources and stopped their illegal activities.”

Lui revealed the Hong Kong triad syndicate offered illegal drugs to patrons in order to attract more customers. Six of the seven venues housed arcade machines with fishing games used for betting. An illegal mahjong parlour was the seventh venue.

The Hong Kong police investigation estimated the syndicate laundered more than HK$33 million ($6.05 million) in two years.

Unlawful gambling carries a maximum penalty of HK$50,000 ($9,175) and nine months jail time in Hong Kong. Running an illegal gambling den leads to up to seven years in prison in addition to a HK$5 million ($917,450) fine. Furthermore, money laundering is punishable by a HK$5 million ($917,450) fine plus up to 14 years in jail.

Triad Crackdown Is Not Over

These latest raids follow another extensive operation that concluded before the 25th anniversary of the United Kingdom handing Hong Kong back to China. Operation “Thunderbolt 2022” started in late May and finished on July 4.

Hong Kong authorities seized HK$13 million ($2.38 million) of cash and gambling chips. In addition, police took drugs, liquor and gambling equipment. Operation Thunderbolt 2022 featured forces from Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangdong on the Chinese Mainland.

Organised crime is a major issue in Asian countries, with triad syndicates running rife. Triads, or people with links to triads, built Macau into the gambling empire it is today. The late Stanley Ho was long linked to organised crime. The links proved so strong that the New Jersey authorities denied Ho the right to hold a casino licence in the state.

Furthermore, Ho’s links to criminal activity ultimately led to the investigation into Crown Resorts. The Sydney gaming regulator prohibited Crown Resorts from dealing with Ho or persons linked to his companies. Then Crown majority shareholder James Packer, attempted to sell a large percentage of his stake to Lawrence Ho, Stanley’s son. Although Ho was not on the list of banned persons, a blacklisted company showed Laurence Ho as a director. This set the wheels in motion and ultimately resulted in Crown Resorts having new ownership and a complete crackdown on Australian casinos.