Police smash secret Hong Kong triad command centre fitted with CCTV in industrial building
Undercover two-year operation finds gang leaders would beat up teenage members and scapegoated them if their illegal businesses were detected
Police have smashed a secret triad group command centre in a Hong Kong industrial building where gang leaders monitored teenage members working for them at illegal gambling sites and brothels.
Revealing the details of their undercover two-year operation on Saturday, police said the gang leaders would beat up the teenagers if they were found to be lazy and use them as “scapegoats” if their illegal businesses were detected.
Code-named “Goldluster” and “Thunderbolt 18”, the operations on Friday resulted in the arrest of 63 people aged between 15 and 65. Eight of the arrested were under 18 years old.
The operations also closed down five underground gambling centres as well as brothels and places where marijuana was grown. In all, HK$40,000 (US$5,000) in cash, surveillance equipment, suspected marijuana and weapons including some 15 butcher’s knives and six softball bats were found.
Police further confiscated about 40 mobile phones and several membership cards used for online gambling.
Acting senior superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the illegal businesses earned the triad group, which he did not name, about HK$300,000 per month.
It is understood the group is Wo Shing Wo, one of the city’s oldest triads.
Li said police noticed that in 2016 the triad group was actively recruiting teenagers, assigning them to run brothels and illegal gambling centres.
But he said the young members were being monitored at a secret control centre.
It was located in a secluded industrial building in Kwai Chung, according to chief inspector Chan Shun-ching. The centre was installed with monitor screens connected to closed-circuit television cameras set up in at least three of the illegal business bases owned by the group.
“If teenagers were caught idling or taking drugs during work, they will suffer violent physical punishment,” Chan said.
Only a few people trusted by top triad members knew of the centre’s existence, which was discovered by an undercover officer who infiltrated the gang over the past two years.
“Teenagers are used by the triad as scapegoats,” Li added.
“Senior triad members intend to hide behind these youngsters once their illegal businesses are discovered by police, letting the teenagers take the main responsibilities.”
Many did not realise the seriousness of the businesses they were handling, Li added.
Chan said young members of the triad were usually unemployed or high school dropouts, so it was easy for them to be “lured by drugs, free accommodation and illegal jobs”.
As only three key members of the triad were caught at the scene, operations targeting the group would continue, Li noted.