Macau violence linked to 14K triad struggle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 1998, 12:00am

The renewed outbreak of violence in Macau has been linked to struggles within the 14K triad.

The leaders of the largest triad gang in Macau are thought to be losing their grip on younger followers, leading to unsanctioned score-settling and revenge attacks.

With the economic slump hitting gangsters on the fringes of the nine casinos, up-and-coming elements are believed to be trying to make their mark through violence.

Sources say an 18-month turf war between the 14K and Shui Fong triads over casino-related rackets was settled last year when alleged 14K leader 'Broken Tooth' Koi gained an interest in a number of casino VIP rooms.

Koi, who opened a nightclub a few months ago, is understood to have lost some control over his followers when he was forced to leave the enclave temporarily last year to escape arrest.

But many of his underlings, who make money from loansharking, protection, unauthorised chip dealing and the smuggling of people and cargo, are reputed to be increasingly keen to show their might through violence.

'The previous war had calmed down, but some of the younger elements are, to a certain extent, uncontrollable,' one source said.

Detectives are probing a link between yesterday's shooting and the assassination on Tuesday of gambling inspector Francisco Amaral.

Amaral's team had denied access to the Lisboa Casino to a number of unauthorised 'chip boys' the previous day.

But some observers remain unconvinced.

'It was a relatively minor incident and the guys involved were very unimportant and young,' said one source. 'To kill an inspector seems way out of proportion.' Although publicly unwilling to admit the limits of their ability to control underworld feuding, security officials are worried. 'This week they have picked out a gambling inspector and a marine police officer. The only solid thing linking them at the moment is the cold-blooded way they were killed,' said one.

CHRONOLOGY Wednesday: The No 3 man in the Gambling Inspectorate, Francisco Amaral, is shot dead as he walks to lunch with a colleague near the Lisboa Hotel. A Government official describes the killing as 'the perfect execution'.

October 20-24 last year: Three business premises linked to gambling inspectors are firebombed in what appears to be a triad campaign of intimidation. Fears rise of an increased triad war against gambling inspectors.

September 4: Gambling Inspector Jose Madeira is shot twice in the face with a sawn-off shotgun outside the Macau Palace floating casino. He survives with major facial scars. Madeira, 26, had been with the casino watchdog for two months.

May 4: Three 14K triad society members are shot dead in a car on the busy Avenida de Praia Grande by two men on a motorcycle riding alongside the car at high speed. Nine shots are fired and each victim is hit three times.

November 26, 1996: The deputy head of the Gambling Inspectorate, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Antonio Apolinario, is shot twice in the head by a motorcycle gunman as he enters his car near his central Macau office. Bullets pass through his cheek and neck, but he survives.