Chinese authorities just aren’t having it when it comes to gang activity in China. In an operation called “Thunderbolt 15,” Chinese laws targeted members of the nation’s “transnational organized crime criminal organization,” known as triads. In a three-month sweep, Hong Kong police arrested more than 19,000 triads and took large quantities of drugs, weapons and contraband off the streets.
The triads have roots going all the way back to the Ming Dynasty. They operate out of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, as well as other countries with significant Chinese populations (i.e. the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom). Their dealings are largely in extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, gambling, weapon trafficking and various forms of fraud. Illegal loans are among their newest hustles according to Au Chin-chau, chief superintendent of Hong Kong police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau. Triads also tend to be murderous in the carrying out of their business.
Hong police raided 7,500 properties (residences and gambling venues) during the three months of Thunderbolt 15. They arrested 4,343 people in Hong Kong (1,177 from the mainland of China). In the Guangdong province, a suburb of Hong Kong, more than 11,000 triads were arrested and 4,000 more were picked up in Macau. The police seized $102 million Hong Kong dollars ($13 million American), as well as illegal drugs, bootleg DVDs, contraband cigarettes and weapons said to be worth $67 million Hong Kong dollars, according to the BBC.
“The message we want to send out to the public is that police have zero tolerance for organized crimes and any other illegal activities,” said Au Chin-chau.