Mainland immigrants who joined Hong Kong triad gangs as long as 30 years ago are increasingly moving back across the border to link up with gangsters in their home cities and provinces, according to police. Leading the race into the underbelly of China's burgeoning markets is the Sun Yee On, Hong Kong's most powerful triad group, the SAR's top anti-triad officer says. Analysts say the round-up of Sun Yee On gangsters in Shanwei City, which came to light on Tuesday, shows that Beijing wants to get tough with 'outside' gangs forging mainland links. They say China's leaders are increasingly worried not only about Hong Kong triads but also alliances between mainland syndicates and overseas Chinese and Russian crime groups. 'Beijing is terrified of turning into the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, where the Russian mob exerts tremendous influence,' a Hong Kong-based security specialist said. Criminologist Chu Yiu-kong, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's Department of Sociology and author of The Triads as Business, says most Hong Kong triad members were originally from China. 'They emigrated here maybe 20 or 30 years ago and joined triad societies,' he said. He said these triad members, lured by China's opening up, had found new criminal opportunities - and partners in crime. 'It's not necessarily because they are triads but because they have the capital, they have the experience of running entertainment businesses, drugs and women, for instance, and can be of use to local mainland criminal entrepreneurs,' he said, adding that official corruption had eased the return of the triad members. 'In a sense, gangsters are like legitimate businessmen, academics and professionals - everyone wants a slice of the enormous opportunities in the mainland.' Acting Chief Superintendent Lo Mung-hung, head of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, believes the Sun Yee On probably started the mainland move. 'There is no doubt the work we have been doing here has been a factor in making them look north,' he said. 'This is one of the reasons we have recently established closer relationships with the mainland authorities.' Professor Chu says Hong Kong triad groups are well known in southern China and their names and reputations could be used for criminal activities. Further north, however, brandishing one's Sun Yee On or 14K credentials would be pointless. 'Hardly anyone there has ever heard of them, so the name means nothing. It's all about money and expertise. If they have that, then they're in business,' Professor Chu said. Analysts say Beijing's nationwide crackdown on organised crime will remain ineffective so long as provincial officials are on the gangsters' payroll.