Hong Kong Police Bust Hundreds in Gambling Raids Linked to Triads

Posted on: February 24, 2023, 04:11h. 

Last updated on: February 24, 2023, 12:16h.

Sex, drugs, and illegal gambling are some of the trademarks of the triads throughout Asia. Knowing this helps law enforcement track down criminals, and helped Hong Kong authorities make a major bust of triad members in a crackdown.

Hong Kong Police investigators inspect a vehicle involved in a triad-related fight
Hong Kong Police investigators inspect a vehicle involved in a triad-related fight. The police continue to crack down on triads, arresting dozens of suspected members this week. (Image: South China Morning Post)

Police arrested 234 people on Thursday, including dozens of suspected triad members, as they continue to weed out gang-controlled violence. The South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing police updates, reports that authorities targeted 15 gambling parlors and two brothels, uncovering a storage facility for illegal cigarettes and other contraband.

An unidentified source told the media outlet that the properties were under the control of a number of triads. The raids, part of an operation the police dubbed Levington, come as triad gangs continue a turf war in Hong Kong that includes kidnapping, murder, and street fighting.

Hong Kong Tries to Weed Triads Out

The raids led to the seizure of HK$220,000 (US$28,039) in illegal narcotics, as well as contraband cigarettes worth HK$4.5 million (US$573,300) and HK$2 million (US$254,800) in gambling chips. Police also confiscated HK$1.93 million (US$245,882) in cash, along with various weapons and vehicles.

The operation was organized by Hong Kong’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau as part of its ongoing effort to rid the region of the criminal organizations. While not all of the suspects the police arrested had direct ties to the triads, those that didn’t still knew who owned the properties where the raids took place.

Of the 234 people arrested, 173 are men and 97 are women. Almost all were from Hong Kong, although 12 of those arrested are from mainland China. The SCMP confirmed with its source that many were confirmed members of different triads.

Almost everyone taken into custody will face a variety of charges, including criminal intimidation, money laundering, drug trafficking, possession of illegal weapons, illegal gambling, dealing in stolen contraband, and assault.

The Hong Kong Police Force has focused its attention on the triads and doesn’t plan on letting up. In a statement Friday, authorities said police will “spare no effort to crack down on triad activities and block their sources of income, and adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards such illegal activities.”

Dedicated Efforts Paying Off

In 2022, Hong Kong police increased their anti-triad efforts, investigating 2,554 cases of triad-related crimes. This was 35% more than a year earlier, and represents a dedicated effort to eradicate the gangs. In 2019, there were 1,353 cases, and in 2020, there were 1,769.

The increase in targeted efforts also has its roots in an unpleasant foundation. It’s because triad-related crime has risen, with illegal gambling, prostitution, and grand theft auto becoming more popular.

In June of last year, triad factions got into a gunfight that left three people with injuries. Four months later, thugs attacked two people who left one triad to join another. Switching sides became more prevalent in 2022, and there were a number of revenge attacks between factions as a result.

That same month, police dismantled a gang that was dealing stolen weapons and vehicles to triads.