Thirteen schoolboys held in Sun Yee On triad crackdown
Police have busted the Kowloon East faction of the Sun Yee On triad and made 58 arrests, nine of them aged between 13 and 16, officers say.
The crackdown across 67 locations marked the culmination of an undercover operation that mobilised more than 100 officers over the past few months.
Police also seized HK$690,000 in cash at a gambling den and weapons including knives and metal water pipes.
Eight of the arrested were mainlanders. Another 13 were secondary school boys.
Police senior superintendent Eugene Yue of Kowloon East said the arrests of the boys did not signal triad infiltration in schools as they attended 11 different schools. "Many [youngsters] are lured by small perks such as free meals or drinks," Yue said. "Some of them are asked to be doormen at discos or to traffic drugs."
Teenagers loitering at the parks of public housing estates in Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O were often the targets of triad recruitment, he said.
From January to September, 320 crime cases involved people under 16, down from 402 cases in the same period last year, he said.
The suspects, aged between 13 and 42, face charges that include illegal betting, trafficking of dangerous drugs, living on the earnings of prostitution, acting or claiming to be a triad member, robbery and wounding.
The raids included an underground gambling den in Mong Kok that accepted bets from overseas. Police confiscated the HK$690,000 as well as baccarat gambling tools and cards.
Officers also swooped on prostitution activities in newly built upmarket hotels in Kowloon East, including Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay.
Six mainland prostitutes, aged between 17 and 38, were caught for breaching their conditions of stay. Two local women, 40 and 42, were arrested for soliciting for an immoral purpose.
Police said it was the second time in two months that they had found triads using rooms in pricier hotels for prostitution in Kowloon East. The syndicate is believed to have been active for more than a month.
Five of the suspects are still being held for investigation. The crackdown is ongoing and more arrests are expected.