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Hong Kong gambling syndicate bust leads to 48 arrests

Hong Kong police carried out a series of raids across the city on 21 July 2022, in an effort to cut down on a triad-controlled syndicate that has allegedly generated HK$33m (US$4.2m) from illegal gambling activity over the past two years.

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According to the South China Morning Post, authorities seized HK$13m in crime proceeds, comprised of HK$2m in cash, two sports cars and 10 luxury watches; during busts in the Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long districts.

Police raided seven gambling dens, arresting 35 men and 13 women. Of those arrested, 13 are said to be members of the syndicate, including the alleged ringleader, with an additional 35 gamblers.

The suspects have been detained on suspicion of a range of offences, including money laundering, operating illegal gambling establishments, being members of triad organisations and drug dealing.

Six of the raided locations are said to have been offering arcade machines with fishing-based gambling games, while the seventh was operating as an illegal mahjong parlour.

The syndicate is said to have benefited from Covid-related closures of mahjong parlours and gaming centres, transforming flats in the Kowloon West and New Territories North regions into illegal gambling dens, complete with bouncers and lookouts.

The suspects are also alleged to have used these venues as locations to sell illegal substances, in an effort to draw in more customers.

Hong Kong Police Superintendent Lui Sze-ho said: “The syndicate set up shell companies and laundered the crime proceeds generated from illegal gambling businesses through the firms to buy luxury cars and watches and obtain cash.”

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