Hong Kong police have arrested 15 people, including the alleged ringleader, in breaking up a triad gang accused of committing 22 burglaries and thefts in the past nine months as well as involvement in drug trafficking and illegal gambling, the force said on Wednesday. Chief Inspector Tse Tsz-kwan of the Hong Kong Island regional anti-triad squad said the racket controlled a number of gambling dens across the city, where they sold both stolen property and illegal drugs. Arcade machines with popular fishing games were also used for betting in the establishments. The gang usually operated in a group of three. One was responsible for breaking into shops, while the other ransacked the premises and the third acted as a lookout Leung Suet-wai, senior inspector He said a police investigation had linked the group to 15 burglaries and seven thefts from vehicles since last December, with the cases involving HK$1.8 million (US$232,000) in cash and valuables. “The gang usually operated in a group of three. One was responsible for breaking into shops, while the other ransacked the premises and the third acted as a lookout,” senior inspector Leung Suet-wai said. He said the gang scouted the shops before they were raided and were equipped with walkie-talkies to communicate during their operations. After an in-depth investigation identified the group’s core figures, officers mounted an arrest operation across the city over the past three days. In the early hours of Sunday, officers picked up three alleged members outside a hotel in Kowloon Tong. During the operation, officers found HK$300,000 worth of illegal drugs along with some packaging equipment. “The gang recently used hotel rooms to package and distribute illegal drugs due to lower hotel rates. They also moved around from different hotels in an attempt to avoid police investigation,” Leung said. Hotel rooms have been significantly cheaper over the past several months due to the crippling effect of Covid-19 on tourism. Suspected triad leader survives gangland hit before driving himself to hospital The next day, police intercepted another three men outside a shopping centre in Tin Shui Wai as they loaded goods into a car. One of the suspects tried to flee in the vehicle but was stopped by officers. The mall’s two stores had been burgled and more than HK$210,000 in cash and valuables stolen. Officers arrested the other nine suspects in a series of raids on Monday and Tuesday. The suspects, aged between 16 and 52, were arrested on suspicion of offences including burglary, trafficking in dangerous drugs, theft and dangerous driving. Tse said the youngest suspect was a 16-year-old girl accused of acting as a lookout. According to police, there were 64 cases of burglary in Hong Kong Island in the first eight months of this year, up 21 per cent from 53 in the same period last year.