One of the biggest focuses on keeping the Macau casino scene free of crime has been to focus on one of the biggest money drivers of criminal outfits: loan sharks. On October 28, the Macau Judiciary Police and Chinese officials were able to declare a victory in that fight, arresting 76 people.
GGRAsia reports the loan shark scheme was worth HKD20 million ($2.6 million), and specifically targeted gamblers. Of that amount, police were able to seize HKD5.5 million ($701,490) by freezing 13 accounts purporting to belong to junkets.
The majority of the arrests, 41, happened in Macau, the Judiciary Police noted. The suspects were carrying mainland China documentation.
That Chinese connection meant another 35 were arrested across China, with suspects found in Beijing, Nanchang, Zhuhai and Guangdong.
The arrests come after a six month investigation that began in April, 2019, with intelligence gathering in Zhuhai province. Police believe the loan shark operation has been running for atleast two years.
Much like other loan shark operations around Macau, this one stands accused of illegally detaining victims who were unable to pay back their debts. For the first half of 2019, Macau officials note 169 cases of that crime happening in the vicinity of casinos, which they know of.
This comes just weeks after Macau police warned that they would be cracking down hard on loan shark criminality. As they gave that warning, 25 suspects were found guilty of the crime and sent to prison, while they noted they had found a total of 295 cases of the act in the first half of 2019.
Both the crimes of loan sharking and illegal detention showed increases in the first half of 2019, but police noted in September that those increases are starting to level out as they increase patrols in problem areas. As the sharks know they are being hunted, they have much less appetite for their ill-gotten wealth and are starting to swim away.