Hong Kong Illegal Gambling Arrests Lead to Triad Money Seizure

Posted on: September 18, 2023, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: September 18, 2023, 11:15h.

Police in Hong Kong continue to target illegal gambling and organized crime across the city. Several recent raids have led to dozens of arrests, and the police are at it again, apprehending more than 200 individuals involved in illicit gambling activities orchestrated by a triad syndicate.

Hong Kong police officers standing guard
Hong Kong police officers standing guard. Law enforcement continues to crack down on illegal gambling and triads in the city. (Image: AFP)

The raids, which covered the entire city, saw the authorities confiscate approximately HK$2 million (US$255,800) in cash for use in underground casinos. Last month, similar raids netted HK$12.5 million (US$1.6 million), plus a triad boss.

On Friday, the police embarked on a 48-hour mission targeting approximately 40 sites, including arcades, illicit gambling establishments, unauthorized drinking establishments, and exclusive clubs. During their operation, the authorities detained 201 individuals on charges ranging from involvement in illicit drug trade to conspiracy to engage in destructive activities. Others face charges of running an unlawful gambling establishment.

The authorities confiscated HK$560,000 (US$71,624) in cash and HK$1.35 million (US$172,665) in gambling chips. They also seized 53 gambling machines and various other pieces of incriminating evidence.

Another Triad Boss Falls

A man by the last name of Lee, a 37-year-old believed to be the ringleader of the triad, managed to evade capture during the operation. However, his luck ran out when he was apprehended in Lok Ma Chau around 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Police Senior Superintendent Eileen Chung Lai-yee accused Lee of utilizing authorized nightlife establishments as illicit gambling dens, where he supposedly coerced funds from individuals. Another officer, Chief Inspector Ho Kai-ho from the Kowloon East Regional Anti-Triad Unit, said the organization also used one of the properties as its headquarters.

According to authorities, the gang used undocumented workers to maintain the establishments, which were also regular gathering places for triad leaders and members. While some of the properties were initially set up as nightclubs, they transitioned into gambling halls, complete with baccarat, poker, and other games.

China Continues Exerting Pressure

It’s unclear if this latest operation was the offspring of last month’s raid. The investigations from all of the recent raids are continuing, and more people, possibly even more triad bosses, will likely be arrested.

China is also putting more pressure on Hong Kong to break up organized crime. The country’s vice minister for the Ministry of Public Security, Chen Siyuan, spoke at a conference in Hong Kong last week, stressing the need for greater cross-border collaboration.

Hong Kong police have been working almost nonstop to eradicate triads, although it’s a task that never ends. In addition to the recent land-based casinos they have broken up, police are also having to dedicate more resources to online crime.

Two weeks ago, Hong Kong police arrested 42 people who were operating an illegal online casino. It took a while to uncover the outfit, as the authorities believe it may have been operational since March of last year.

The group reportedly raked in around HK$26 million (US$3.3 million), and many gamblers were able to use established payment systems in the city. The platform itself was based overseas, which possibly means the payment providers had help from within the city.