A total of 325 people, including 11 suspected triad society members, were rounded up in a multi-department crackdown targeting the gang-controlled drug, sex and illicit fuel trades in the suburban townships of Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai in northwestern Hong Kong in recent days.
The joint police, customs and fire services operation also led to the seizure of more than 4,000 litres of untaxed petrol in one illicit fuelling site in Yuen Long – the largest bust of its kind in more than a decade.
Yuen Long police district assistant commander Superintendent Au Yeung Siu-kong said officers raided a total of 22 brothels, gambling dens, illegal bars, and illicit fuelling stations between August 11 and 19.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
Drugs, 30,000 illicit cigarettes and 17,100 litres of untaxed petrol and diesel fuel – worth a total of HK$520,000 on the market – were seized during the raids, the superintendent said.
“We believe the crackdown has dealt a blow to the triad gang in the area, and effectively hit their income sources,” Au Yeung said.
Among those arrested were 157 men and 168 women, aged 17 to 82, including 11 alleged to have triad society backgrounds. Most of those picked up at the premises were believed to be customers, according to Au Yeung, who also said investigation was under way into whether the customers could have breached the anti-Covid-19 restrictions on social gathering.
The suspects comprised 316 locals, while the nine others were people staying in the city illegally or mainlanders staying on travel visas.
The suspects were arrested on suspicion of various offences, including operating a vice establishment, operating a gambling establishment, gambling unlawfully, illegal immigration charges, selling liquor without a licence, trafficking in a dangerous drug, possessing illicit cigarettes and selling illicit petrol.
Customs commander of the illicit fuel and general investigation division Joy Wong Sek-yan highlighted two raids – one on Wednesday last week and one on Tuesday – on two illicit fuelling stations in Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai where a total of 5,100 litres of untaxed petrol was seized.
The total haul had a total market value of about HK$100,000, with a duty potential of HK$31,000.
Wong added that one August 12 raid on an illicit fuelling station on Long Hon Road in Yuen Long saw the seizure of some 4,200 litres of illicit petrol in a single swoop. Three men, aged 17 to 39, were arrested.
“The seizure was the biggest by customs in the 12 years,” said Wong, adding that illicit fuel sales had become more active recently, partly because of tighter border controls amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In the past, some drivers would take the opportunities of transporting people across the border to get low-priced fuel from the mainland and carry it back Hong Kong,” said Wong, “But now, much fewer people would travel across the border because of the Covid-19 epidemic. The drivers are more tempted to patronise those illegal fuel filling stations.”
She warned that the use of illicit petroleum products was also a criminal offence in Hong Kong. Convicted offenders would have forfeit their cars, and would also be liable to a maximum fine of HK$1 million and imprisonment for two years, Wong said.
This article Hundreds arrested, some with ‘triad ties’, in series of raids on brothels, gambling dens and illicit petrol sellers in Hong Kong’s New Territories first appeared on South China Morning Post