Wo Hop To triads targeted by police

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am

10 arrests over fish market extortion

Police believe they have smashed the Southern faction of Wo Hop To triad society, after they arrested 10 suspected members including two high-ranking gangsters.

The 10 males were being held on suspicion of extortion at the Aberdeen wholesale fish market and involvement in illegal bookmaking and money-lending activities.

The gang had demanded between HK$500 and several thousand dollars from each wholesaler at the fish market, ahead of the Lunar New Year, a police source said.

The source refused to say whether the wholesalers had paid up, or how they had been threatened.

More than 30 merchants operate at the fish market.

Anti-triad police began investigations in October, after Wo Hop To became active in the Southern district.

Preliminary investigations showed the gang was involved in illegal soccer betting, and had lent out sums between tens of thousands of dollars to more than HK$100,000 without a licence, the source said.

Officers were still trying to find out the number of debtors implicated, and if the interest rate used was over the legal limit of 60 per cent a year.

Officers swooped into action at about 6am yesterday, raiding about 20 addresses in the Southern district.

The 10 males arrested were aged between 16 and 41. Most were arrested in homes at Wah Fu Estate.

Among them were two office-bearers of the triad faction, one of them was believed to be a 'red pole', a triad official who leads a group of members, the police source said.

The alleged red-pole fighter, 41, was caught as he returned to Wah Fu Estate at about 7.30am. When confronted, he pushed a policeman and tried to flee, but was eventually overpowered. One police officer suffered minor injuries in the scuffle.

A raid on the gangster's home uncovered soccer betting slips involving more than HK$100,000.

Officers seized records of illegal loans, documents and computers in the operation, codenamed Edgeflyer.

The 10 suspects were being detained for questioning last night. No one has yet been charged.

Yesterday's was the second anti-triad operation in three days. On Monday, police arrested 27 suspected triad members in a crackdown on a recruitment drive. Some of those arrested were suspected to be members of another faction of Wo Hop To.

Triad-related crimes rose by 5.2 per cent to 2,376 last year from 2,259 in 2007, the police said.