Businesspeople and investors are not the only moneymakers heading for the booming mainland market - Hong Kong's triads are flocking to major cities north of the border to earn money. Hong Kong University criminologist Chu Yiu-kong, who believes Hong Kong triad societies are in decline and now consist of looser affiliations than the tightly controlled gangs of the past, said gangsters were steadily migrating to the mainland. Describing the new breed of mainland-bound triads as 'illegal entrepreneurs', he said many did not even use their triad influence to do business. 'It might work for them in Guangdong, but when they move further afield, to Shanghai or Beijing, being a Hong Kong triad carries no influence. They need to move to China to make the big money now, but once there, they face other problems, such as language difficulties and dealing with local gangsters.' Extortion rackets on movie sets and in entertainment hubs like Tsim Sha Tsui have been affected since the economic downturn and the decline in the film industry's fortunes. 'You can't extort money out of people who don't have it,' he said. Drug trafficking, prostitution and counterfeiting were now among the most popular activities the triads were involved in on the mainland, he said. The expanding activities of Hong Kong criminals on the mainland and Macau appears borne out by statistics from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, which regularly takes part in cross-boundary operations. A bureau spokesman said: 'In recent years, [the bureau] has been working in concert with our mainland and Macau counterparts in the fight against the triad members through the exchange of intelligence and joint enforcement actions, for example, the annual large-scale tripartite anti-triad operations. These regular proactive enforcement actions have dealt a severe blow to their sources of income.' This year's operation, over three days from June 7, led to the arrests of 1,762 people and the seizure of drugs, 59 knives, 182,596 illegal pornographic or pirated-movie discs, 15,069 litres of illicit fuel, 353,757 cigarettes and HK$71 million in soccer betting slips.