THE reputed head of the notorious Wo Hop To gang was arrested early yesterday in Hong Kong during an international swoop against the gang in the territory and San Francisco. Peter Chong Ping-keung was stopped as he returned to the territory from a trip to Macau and was taken to Waterfront police station where he was held until he appeared in court about eight hours later. Arrest warrants have also been issued for 16 other alleged members of the Wo Hop To gang, all of whom are believed to be living in the San Francisco area. This marks the second time within six weeks the Federal Bureau of Investigation-instigated operations have resulted in the arrest of an alleged Asian gang leader in Hong Kong. On August 27, Organised Crime and Triad Bureau officers arrested Kwok Ling-kay, otherwise known as Ah Kay, the reputed head of the Fuk Ching gang which has been linked to alien smuggling by US authorities. In follow-up raids, more than 20 other alleged Fuk Ching members were arrested by Hong Kong and US officials. Although part of long-term FBI planning, both operations are seen as a clear message the US authorities are cracking down on Asian organised gangs that have rooted themselves in the country's thriving Chinatowns. Violent triad gangs and associated criminal tongs have been in the spotlight since 1987, during a series of US Senate hearings on Asian organised crime - which identified Chong as the alleged leader of the Wo Hop To and is believed to have led indirectlyto the recent raids. Chong, 50, believed to be the head of the Wo Hop To in San Francisco before he fled to Hong Kong last year, was arrested at 1.30 am at the Macau ferry terminal in Sheung Wan. Narcotics Bureau officers, who had been investigating Chong's operations in the territory, finally acted when Interpol received an extradition warrant issued on Friday through the US Consulate. Chong was carrying $11,000 in cash and six gold American Express cards when stopped. So far a total of 100 counts have been filed against the gang in the Southern District Court of California, with at least 10 referring to Chong by name. The other allegations refer to the 16 other suspected gang members. One of the allegations against Chong is that he ordered Wo Hop To members to torch his own home for the insurance. He is also alleged to have run a loan sharking operation in San Francisco. The Wo Hop To gang is also thought to be connected to at least six murders in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1991. Police believe the gang has long been involved in illegal gambling and book making through a series of mahjong schools on Hong Kong Island and in Macau. Chong appeared in Eastern Magistracy yesterday on two extraditable charges of arson and conspiracy to commit extortion. The other charges are not covered by the joint Hong Kong-US extradition treaty. The alleged triad leader offered bail and surety of $2.2 million in cash. Roger McMeans, a Hong Kong Government lawyer representing the United States Government, opposed bail. Magistrate Ian Carlson remanded Chong to Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre pending extradition papers from the US, and adjourned the case to December 7. One investigator working on the case said further charges, including racketeering offences, were likely to laid against the alleged triad boss on that date. Chong, who lives in Tai Hang Road, near Causeway Bay, was initially arrested in San Francisco in January last year during a raid on an illegal gambling den in the city's Chinatown. He later fled to Hong Kong with his family. At the time US law enforcement officials said he had centralised control of several Asian gangs in the San Francisco area under the umbrella of the Wo Hop To gang. The operation against the Wo Hop To was continuing in both Hong Kong and San Francisco last night.