Macau casinos have attracted all sorts over the years, from local gambling enthusiasts and tourists to organized crime agencies. Two decades ago, the corruption around China’s multi-billion dollar casino industry was so abundant it took years to clean it up. A recent raid on Macau casinos by the nation’s authorities hopes to put a stop to what is developing into yet another superfluity of gangland activities.
According to Macau police, a raid on Monday produced 150 arrests throughout various Macau casinos and hotels. A recent deluge of violence prompted the raid. Reports included multiple cases of murder and attacks on associated proprietors. Similar acts of violence took place throughout the 1990’s, including a rash of car bombings and assassinations involving the area’s mafia groups, known as triads.
The Guangdong province of China borders Macau to the south while visitors from Hong Kong can access the territory via a one-hour ferry ride. A former province of Portugal up until 1999, when the presence of triads was at its highest, Macau is now home to the largest gambling market in the entire world. The profusion of violence dropped considerably when Portugal relinquished ownership to China in just before the turn of the millennium, and local authorities have worked diligently to maintain the peace ever since.
Macau police spokeswoman Jacqueline Chan revealed the raid to be “an annual operation held jointly by Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong.” Ms. Chan also said that, “the operation didn’t have any specific target; rather, it was aimed at preventing and tackling crime.”
In June, Ng Man-sun, proprietor of a VIP casino lending operation, was viciously assaulted by a gang of 6 assailants. According to sources, the attack was the result of a dispute between himself and his ex-lover pertaining to ownership of the business. Ng’s injuries are so severe that the victim remains hospitalized to this day.
Last month, two Chinese men were allegedly murdered at the Grand Lapa, a 5-star hotel in Macau. Another Chinese woman was found murdered near the Venetian Macao Casino. All three murders are still under investigation.
The nation’s authorities would not release a list of the locations involved in the raid. Police did disclose that a total of 21 hotels and casinos located within the Asian financial center were raided. Termed “Operation Thunderbolt 2013”, over 1,300 people were questioned, 150 individuals arrested and a multitude of assets, including cars, jewelry and cash, were seized.
Hong Kong police are hoping this latest raid will reduce the crime rate in Macau back to an easily manageable level and put a halt to the gang warfare that seemed to have been returning to China’s only legal gambling market.
Macau took over as the world’s leading gambling territory shortly after it was returned to China’s rule in 1999. Up until then, Las Vegas was the dominant profiteer of gambling resources. Macau’s casino industry increased its revenue by a staggering 42% last year over the previous annual report, scooping $33.5 billion in revenue. Not one to be left out, Las Vegas casino operators with properties in Macau include Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts and the Las Vegas Sands Corp.