Mainlanders suspected of being illegal entrants to Macau paying as much as CNY28,000 (US$4,000) per trip to an alleged people-smuggling gang have told local police that they were in the city either for “money exchange gang” business or gambling.
The term “money exchange gang” was understood to refer to those people that are active in touting illicit money exchange operations inside and around Macau casinos.
The suspected people-smuggling ring – alleged by police to have been active for two years, and said to have been using boats to cross the boundary from the Chinese mainland – was disrupted in a joint operation between the city’s police and authorities in neighbouring Zhuhai in Guangdong province, according to a Thursday briefing by Macau’s Judiciary Police, and reported in Chinese-language local media.
In an operation on Wednesday, Macau police and Macao Customs Service detained two mainland residents – a man and a woman – who were allegedly paying passengers; and one mainlander allegedly the smuggling-boat operator, on the shoreline of Macau peninsula near to the Amizade Bridge. The woman said she had come to Macau to gamble.
During a Thursday media briefing, Judiciary Police spokesman Ho Chan Nam said that simultaneous with the Macau operation, Zhuhai police had arrested five suspects on the mainland side, all of whom were suspected of links to the same alleged smuggling operation. One of those suspects was a “Hong Kong man” said Macau’s Judiciary Police.
Spokesman Mr Ho said the police believed each illegal immigrant carried by the alleged people-smuggling gang had to pay anywhere between CNY11,000 and CNY28,000 per boat trip to Macau. The Macau police believed suspected gang accomplices were still at large.
Macau’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak mentioned to local media in early May that there had been a “rising trend,” in the detection of illegal immigrants in the city, noting the police had detained a total of 222 illegal immigrants in the first quarter of this year.
The higher tally had been linked to “reinforced” effort since the second half of 2018 by the city’s authorities against illicit money exchange. It had seen some of those detained on suspicion of such activities sent back to the mainland but then return via illegal means, noted Mr Wong.
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