Cross-border crime bust: 27,000 arrested in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong

Joint operation to curb illegal activities of triad societies and organised crime syndicates

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 1:36am

Police in Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau arrested more than 27,000 people and seized HK$153 million in crime proceeds during a two-month joint operation to combat triad crimes across the border.

Since July 22, police authorities in the three areas took part in the annual joint campaign, codenamed “Thunderbolt 16”, to curb the illegal activities of triads and organised crime syndicates.

As of Wednesday, the Hong Kong Police conducted around 38,000 operations in the city and raided some 3,500 locations, including massage establishments, nightclubs and residential units.

A total of 2,120 people, aged 13 to 79, were detained in the two months for various offences, including triad and drug related crimes, managing vice establishments and criminal damage. Out of these, 357 of them were from the mainland and 272 were non-ethnic Chinese.

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The number of arrests this time round is a 51 per cent drop on figures from the same operation conducted last year. Officers also seized drugs worth HK$62 million across the city, down on the HK$67 million netted in 2015.

Brian Lowcock, senior superintendent of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, said the trend of triad and organised crime had remained steady over the years.

“The gangs used the same ways to earn money,” Lowcock said in a press briefing on Thursday.

“So we particularly targeted [cross-border] crime including people smuggling, as the number of Vietnamese or Southeast Asian illegal immigrants to the city has been increasing earlier this year,” he continued, adding that the problem had been scaled down in recent months.

In two separate operations to crack down on people-smuggling syndicates, the force arrested 13 local snakeheads and 14 illegal immigrants – 11 were from Vietnam and the rest from Pakistan.

The Post earlier reported that snakeheads were arranging flights to Beijing for South Asian illegal immigrants, transporting them to Shenzhen and then smuggling them to Hong Kong by sea.

Official figures showed the number of non-Chinese illegal immigrants caught in the city rose to more than 3,800 last year from 1,984 in 2014. But in the first six months of this year, about 1,500 non-Chinese illegal immigrants were picked up, with the average monthly figure dropping sharply to 162 in June from a monthly average of about 500 in the second quarter of last year.

In the Thunderbolt bust, officers netted about 240,000 rolls of contraband cigarettes, and a large batch of weapons and imitation firearms.

Meanwhile on the mainland, Guangdong police nabbed 24,330 people in ten provinces for crimes including cross-border phone scams, operating underground banks and drug-related offences, and seized more than 70 million yuan (HK$81.3 million) in crime proceeds. “We have cracked down on 20 syndicates and detected 90 cross-border crimes,” the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department said.

Macau police also held 1,085 people in the same operation.