Two former top leaders of a triad, believed to be the Wo Shing Wo gang, were among seven people arrested on Thursday in a Hong Kong temple and accused of holding a traditional initiation ceremony for a new recruit.
The six men and one woman, aged 37 to 58, were taken into custody from Kwan Tai Temple on Hai Tan Street in Sham Shui Po, where the ritual was being organised around midday.
“During the raid, police seized paper offerings, HK$100,000 (US$12,900) in cash, lai see, and a yellow paper on which triad-related phrases and oaths were written,” Superintendent Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit said.
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He said two of the male suspects were former leaders of a triad society, but did not name the gang.
“Such traditional triad initiation ceremonies, attended by high-ranking members, are rarely seen in the city,” he said.
Police arrested the seven suspects on suspicion of taking part in a triad meeting – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.
A force insider said the two former triad leaders were known as “Sha Tin Mi” and “Chi Tang” in the underworld circle.
The other five suspects were a businessman – who was a new recruit – and four members who acted as witnesses in the ritual, he said.
The arrests were made within two hours of receiving intelligence about the illegal ceremony.
“The ceremony was under way when officers rushed to the temple’s main hall. The businessman in his 40s was seen kneeling down in front of a table on which a roasted pig, a chicken and paper offerings were placed,” the source said.
He said he believed the ritual was tailor-made for the new recruit as the two high-ranking gangsters wanted to build a good rapport with him.
Outside the temple, an electric Porsche owned by Sha Tin Me was searched by officers, but no illegal items were found.
As of Thursday evening, all the suspects were still being held for questioning and none of them had been charged.
The source said a leader of the same triad society, who was shot by a hitman on a motorcycle in Tsim Sha Tsui in September, was a close associate of Chi Tang.
The shooting happened shortly after midnight on September 8 as the bike pulled up next to the 45-year-old man’s Mercedes-Benz when it stopped at a traffic light outside Victoria Mall, about 300 metres from Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station.
The hitman sped off on his bike after firing one shot at the triad leader.
The victim was shot in the chest, but he managed to drive about 1km to Queen Elizabeth Hospital to seek medical treatment. He was out of danger after the bullet was removed from his body in an emergency surgery.
Chung said targeting triad personalities and activities was an operational priority of the city’s police commissioner and “we spare no effort to combat triads”.