SCMP Monday, August 27, 2001
'Triad recruitment agency' smashed
Police believe they have crippled the Sun Yee On triad group's "recruitment agency" operating in Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O schools, following the arrest of 15 teenagers.
Those arrested in a seven-hour operation that ended at noon yesterday were aged between 13 and 19.
They included a 19-year-old who police said was suspected of being the leader. A police source said officers had received information that the Sun Yee On had been forcing students in the two districts to join the triad society and that it was planning a major recruitment drive when the new school term starts in September.
The source said officers identified 25 members of the gang during their months-long investigation.
They are still, however, searching for another 10 suspects who managed to escape yesterday's security net.
The source said the gang's recruitment drive came to light several months ago when six students in Tseung Kwan O reported they had been approached and forced to pay a fee to join the Sun Yee On and Luen Hing triad societies.
"It's basically a triad recruitment agency. These kids target students - sometimes their own classmates - at schools in the districts. The triad bosses are very clever at using peer pressure to get new recruits," a police spokesman said.
Officers from the Kwun Tong district anti-triad squad, district crime squad and district intelligence squad raided the homes of the suspects in Kwun Tong, Sau Mau Ping, Wong Tai Sin and Tseung Kwan O housing estates.
Seven of those arrested were aged 13 to 15.
They have been released on $500 police bail pending further investigation. The other eight suspects, aged between 16 and 19, and including a 16-year-old girl, were detained.
Police said the arrested youths were held for various offences, including inducing teenagers to be triad members, claiming to be members of triad societies, wounding and robbery.
The source said a gang member was also being investigated over a serious beating handed out to a teenager on the night of August 16 in Tsui King Court, Tsui Ping Estate, Kwun Tong.
The victim was admitted to a hospital in a critical condition, but has since been discharged.
The police spokesman said yesterday's arrests were made following months of investigations that had received the full co-operation of schools and parents.
He said investigations had led police to believe the gang was active in triad-related activities in Tseung Kwan O, Kwun Tong and Mongkok. The spokesman said police would continue to demonstrate strong determination to crush triad activities through similar operations in the future.
It was hoped the operation would specifically help maintain a low crime rate in Kwun Tong, he said.
Police are also investigating the Luen Hing triad society's recruitment drive.