Macau law enforcement said earlier this week that 113 people were arrested for their involvement in a long-term loan shark targeting casino customers in the former Portuguese colony.
According to Macau police, the operation is estimated to involve at least 70 million Hong Kong dollars ($8.92 million) in total illegal loans. Officers on Thursday reported that more single cases have been arrested in the city since the city’s police action returned Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999.
Twenty-one apartments “around the Kotai area” have called for arrests, according to police. Local Chinese news media quoted police as saying the seized items included watches and jewelry, loan slips, account books, HK$2 million in cash and gambling chips reported at a face value of HK$100,000.
The lender, known under Macau law as a loan shark, was reportedly considered “highly organized” as law enforcement officers told the media and used “robust technology” to deal with police surveillance. Macau police believe the operation may have existed since 2011.
But when police first received intelligence on the matter, they launched a series of investigations, said Pong Huynh, head of the Judicial Police’s support and intelligence department.
The highly organized money loan business is said to have given its members a strict division of duties, including the pursuit of accounting functions, identification of potential borrowers, gamblers, and issuing credit cards. According to police, gamblers who failed to repay their debts were illegally detained by the group.
Police believe that one of the 100 arrested is a Hong Kong resident and operational mastermind, and that most of the members suspected of loan sharking are believed to be residents of mainland China.
According to police data, 102 cases of game-related loan sharking surged 15.9% year-on-year, and 59 cases of game-related illegal detention fell 43.8% year-on-year.