A Monday joint operation by Macau’s Judiciary Police and their mainland Chinese counterparts saw 76 people arrested across Macau and several mainland cities for alleged involvement in a loan-sharking scheme worth at least HKD20-million (US$2.6-million) that targeted gamblers in the casino hub. That is according to several local media reports.
A total of 41 people with mainland China identity documents was detained in Macau, local media reported, citing Judiciary Police commentary at a Tuesday press conference.
The local police were also said to have ordered frozen an aggregate of 13 “junket accounts” and seized a total of over HKD5.5 million (US$701,490) from the accounts, due to suspicion the funds were linked to loan sharking.
The Tuesday briefing said the other 35 people allegedly involved in the loan-sharking group were arrested in mainland locations including Beijing, Nanchang in Jiangxi province, and Zhuhai – the mainland city nearest to Macau – in Guangdong province, by police in those places.
The Monday operation was based on exchanges of intelligence with the Zhuhai police that had taken place since April this year, the Judiciary Police representatives explained to the media. The suspected loan-sharking group, described by the local police as having been “active” in targeting several Macau casinos, was believed to have been running for at least two years.
The amount of money involved was estimated to be over HKD20 million. Those that failed to pay back the suspects had allegedly been unlawfully detained in either Macau or the mainland, according to the Judiciary Police.
The Judiciary Police believed more suspects were at large, and investigations were said to be continuing.
In the first half of this year, Macau recorded a total of 295 cases of alleged gaming-related loan-sharking, representing a 16.1 percent increase year-on-year, according to figures released last month by the city’s authorities.
In the first six months of 2019, Macau’s police forces recorded an aggregate of 169 cases of alleged unlawful detention relating to gaming, a figure that represented a 17.4-percent increase when compared to the same period last year. The Macau authorities label cases as gaming-related when they take place inside a casino or in its surroundings.
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