Police have sought help from mainland authorities to track down a triad enforcer nicknamed 'Tattoo Chung' after arresting 17 people in connection with the brutal killing of a high-ranking gangster in Tsim Sha Tsui last month. They believe the 'ram and chop' killing of Lee Tai-lung is linked to a bitter personal dispute between him and Chung, 'red pole' fighters for two triad societies that have long struggled for control of the Tsim Sha Tsui entertainment district. Chung still bears the scars of a 2006 chopper brawl between more than 50 members of his Wo Shing Wo group and Lee's Sun Yee On. 'Our intelligence shows that Chung is not in Hong Kong,' a police officer said. 'So far, investigations indicate the killing is linked to a long-standing personal dispute between the two triad leaders.' He was speaking after police arrested 16 suspected Wo Shing Wo members and a woman on Wednesday over the killing of Lee, 44, who was knocked down by a van and then hacked to death by three men who leapt from another vehicle. The attack took place outside the five-star Kowloon Shangri-La hotel in Mody Road in the early hours of August 4. Both vehicles were later found burned out in Tai Po. The murder bore the hallmarks of a Wo Shing Wo hit. The 17 arrested suspects, aged between 19 and 49, were being held for questioning last night and no charges had been laid. A police spokesman said the operation was continuing. The arrests came after the elite organised crime and triad bureau took over the investigation last week. Anti-triad officers from the Kowloon West crime unit were originally assigned to the case. Investigators believe more than five people were involved. As well as the two drivers and three attackers, police said lookouts were probably deployed for the brazen strike. Describing the murder as premeditated and well organised, police said the assailants wore caps to disguise themselves and avoid being identified on surveillance cameras. On August 29, police found three knives on the seabed near Pak Shek Kok in Tai Po. Officers believe the weapons were used in the killing. Tsim Sha Tsui East is traditionally a Sun Yee On stronghold, and Lee was known as the 'Baron of Tsim Sha Tsui East'. Once a boxer, he went by the nickname 'Thai Lung' and became a 'red pole' fighter for the society. A red pole is a senior member who usually plays an enforcing role. A Sun Yee On colleague nicknamed 'Ka Fai' is the likely candidate to take control of Lee's illegal businesses, according to a senior police officer who has been in the force for more than 20 years. 'Ka Fai is one of the Tsim Sha Tsui faction leaders of Sun Yee On. He is an office-bearer and also a red pole fighter,' the officer said. 'But compared with Thai Lung, he is not a high-profile gangster.' Lee staged a show of force in front of Tsim Sha Tsui police station in August 2006 when he turned up with 64 supporters when reporting as part of bail conditions on an assault charge. In February, he was arrested with 30 followers on suspicion of unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons during a police raid on a Tsim Sha Tsui pub allegedly controlled by his gang. He refused to wear a hood offered by police while being escorted out of the pub.