Macau’s Judiciary Police announced on Thursday the arrest of eight mainland residents for their alleged involvement in a loan-sharking syndicate targeting gamblers in the city. According to the police, the suspected ringleader and at least 10 other members of the group are believed to be still at-large.
The authorities believe the group – suspected of being in operation since July 2012 – was targeting patrons to Cotai casinos. According to local media reports citing the Judiciary Police, the aggregate principal amount loaned was HKD28.7 million (US$3.67 million), involving at least 60 victims.
The alleged loan-sharking group was busted when the police was investigating a suspected illegal inn. During a search to a residential apartment in Taipa on Tuesday, the police found that the unit was actually a dormitory for about 10 members of the suspected loan-sharking group.
In the apartment, the police officers found notebooks with information about the loans, receipts, copies of mainland residents’ identity documents, and promotional materials, reported local media outlets.
The police said members of the group would approach potential victims and negotiate conditions for loans. They would allegedly charge 10-percent interest on the loan as well as an agreed amount for each hand played by the victim, said the authorities.
The director of Macau’s Judiciary Police, Chau Wai Kuong, had said in July that the “gaming-related crime situation remains serious” in Macau. “We have witnessed an increase in the number of cases of unlawful detention related to loan-sharking operations,” Mr Chau said in a speech at the time, adding that the authorities would beef up surveillance at casinos and surrounding areas to prevent gaming-related illegal activities.
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