Triads in Hong Kong.
An annual cross-border police crackdown on organised crime activities, postponed last year due to the Occupy protests, has hit back harder this year - with 51,000 suspects arrested in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong. In Hong Kong, police raided more than 7,500 premises, including vice dens, gambling venues and residential flats. A total of 4,343 people, including 1,177 mainlanders, were arrested for various offences such as drug trafficking, gambling and illegal lending.
Officers confiscated about HK$102 million in cash, illegal drugs and contraband and froze more than HK$2.1 million in crime proceeds during the three-month operation that ended last week.
"Police also mounted five undercover operations and smashed four triad factions in Kowloon West, Kowloon East, the New Territories North and the New Territories South regions, with the arrest of 381 people," said Chief Superintendent Au Chin-chau of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.
He said the arrests included high-ranking triad members.
The joint operation, codenamed Thunderbolt15 and held between June 15 and September 18, was an annual exercise to combat triad activities and hit the income sources of organised crime, according to police.
The annual operation is a major priority for the force. Earlier this year, senior officials Lau Yip-shing (left) and Lo Mung-hung described police efforts against crime. Photo: Dickson Lee
It began in 2000, is usually held before National Day and lasts a month. Previous operations have seen an average of 10,000 arrests across the three locations.
It is understood this year's clean-up operation lasted for three months because last year's sweep was suspended due to the Occupy protests.
Au said a three-month operation was an "optimal" duration after considering the manpower and resources each police department had, as well as the local crime situation.
Describing the operation as "successful", Au said it had demonstrated the effectiveness of intelligence-led and undercover operations.
"The message we want to send out is that the police have zero tolerance to any kind of illegal activities, including triad activities," Au said.
During this year's operation, Hong Kong police mounted an anti-loan sharking operation and raided 25 legally registered companies that lured people to borrow money and then charged exorbitant interest and service fees up to double the loan.
On the mainland, police nabbed 42,990 suspects in Guangdong, 31,651 of whom were reportedly drug addicts, while the other 11,339 were arrested for various offences.
A total of 3,977 people were picked up in Macau, with a large amount of illegal drugs and weapons also seized both there and in Guangdong.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition