29 held in raid on suspected Yuen Long gambling centre
Police say crackdown in Yuen Long shuts down important source of revenue for two triad gangs
Police arrested 29 people and confiscated slot machines from an alleged illegal casino in Yuen Long they suspect was run by triads.
The raid followed an eight-month undercover investigation into two triads' role in an amusement games centre said to have been converted into a lucrative gambling hub, police said.
More than 120 police officers raided 27 locations in Tin Shui Wai and around Yuen Long on Sunday and Monday, arresting 29 males aged 14 to 65.
The authorities confiscated the slot machines, which could dispense up to HK$10,000 in each jackpot and could collectively generate HK$450,000 in monthly turnover.
Among those detained were the 41-year-old licensee and the 65-year-old attendant of the games centre, where more than HK$20,000 in coins used for illegal gambling were also seized.
Six of those arrested are Pakistanis suspected of being Wo Shing Wo triad members, according to police. The other suspects were alleged members of the 14K triad society, who were active in the area.
One senior officer said the crackdown had dealt a big blow to the gangs, as it cut off their source of revenue.
The centre awarded players points whenever they won a game, but unlike other game centres these points could be converted to cash.
"It is the first time in the past three years police have found an amusement games centre engaged in illegal gambling activity by exchanging games points for monetary rewards," Terry Wong Kin-wah, senior superintendent of the New Territories North regional crime unit, said.
"Instead of using the points to get extra games to play, the points could be exchanged for money. It is illegal," said acting Chief Inspector Wong Chi-ming, of the same unit.
He said the place attracted 20 to 30 slot machine players a day and "some even played for several hours in one day".
Most of the suspects were still being held for questioning yesterday, but no one had been charged.
Aside from triad links, police are investigating how long the machines had been used for illegal activities.
The crime unit began investigating the two gangs in March, deploying undercover policemen to identify leaders and to collect evidence.
"Investigations showed that members of this gang were hired attackers," a police officer said. "We suspect they were involved in a number of wounding cases and illegal gatherings in the district. We are still looking for other members of the gang."