POLICE have smashed an extortion racket jointly run by two triad groups which harassed decorators on new housing estates. They said the triads stood to gain up to $50 million if the scam had not been stopped. The raids began on Friday night, with 110 officers searching 40 locations and arresting 22 men, aged between 17 and 38. Police believe six of those arrested were senior triads from Wo On Lok and Sun Yee On, including the 38-year-old mastermind of the extortion syndicate. They also believe the two groups had joined forces to intimidate decorators without triad affiliations who were working in Cronin Garden - a Shamshuipo estate managed by the Housing Society. 'There are 17 decoration companies working for the housing estate and we believe three of them were operated by the syndicate,' said Chief Inspector Cheung Yim-fui. The investigation began in July when 728 flats in Cronin Garden were completed. The racket took either lump sums of $50,000 or 10 per cent of the decorators' earnings.