More than 10 Zhuhai-based triad groups have specialized in Macau gambling debt collection, according to a recent story in the Chinese-language Macao Daily News.
With the dramatic growth of the gaming industry in Macau, powered by high rollers from mainland China, the recovery of gambling debt has reportedly become a “specialized field,” handled largely by triad groups. The Macau border city of Zhuhai has served as a centralized hub for these collection – or “extortion” – operations. Such practices are “extralegal” (to put it mildly), as there is no legal mechanism for enforcing gambling debt in the PRC.
The Macao Daily News reported that mainland law enforcement agencies have taken note of this rising criminal trend (quotations based on a Chinese to English translation):
Zhuhai City Procuratorate announced the “Ten Most Alarming Cases” for last year, among them was the number two criminal case of “extorting, threatening and chasing gambling debts” by the debt recovering triad group headed by Hong Kong resident Lin Kaitong, and it also emphasized that, the case was a typical debt recovering case, which involved triads, where they use cruel and vile means to extract gambling debts.
Zhuhai authorities have reportedly begun warning of usurious lending practices for mainlanders traveling to Macau to gamble and the potential for extortion upon their return to the PRC. Authorities expressed concern over the “criminal activities” evolving around the practice of gambling debt collection.
Debt enforcement team
The Zhuhai City Procuratorate pointed to the example of Lin Kaitong, who, according to the news report, had started recovering gambling debts owed by mainland gamblers for “rolling chip operators” since 2008 and was later sentenced to 10 months in prison for illegally detaining four debtors in 2009. Upon his release from jail, Lin reportedly resumed his debt collection activities, recruiting a team of at least 13 people “specializing in taking over gambling debtors passed down by usury lenders in Macau.”
Between January and May 2010 the group reportedly handled at least 18 debt collection cases from Macau usury lenders. To enforce payment the Macao Daily News story reported that Lin’s group used violence against the debtors, threats of “dismemberment,” injection of illegal drugs, locking debtors in cages, and forcing them to take revealing pictures for blackmail purposes. The demanded payments were often in sums far greater than the original gambling debt (sometimes two fold), allowing the enforcement group to reap huge profits.
Zhuhai authorities reportedly arrested and later sentenced “triad boss” Lin Kaitong to a combined 17 years in prison for the crimes of organizing and leading a triad organization. The other members of his gang received sentences ranging from two to 13 years imprisonment.
Other groups enforcing debt
Lin Kaitong’s alleged criminal debt enforcement operation is apparently one of many operating in Zhuhai, according to the Macau Daily News story. The business of debt recovery for Macau “rolling chip operators” has reportedly flourished in the past two to three years. Operations range in size from large-scaled which consist of 30-40 people and more than 10 vehicles, to the small ones of only few people.
The news report pointed to the Zhejiang Gang and Dongbei Gang as examples of organizations with more “stable” management who have “earned the trust” of “rolling chip companies” at the Macau casinos. According to insiders, Zhuhai law enforcement had cracked down on the “Yuexi Gang” (aka, “Western Guangdong Gang”), which had reportedly handled 30 to 40 debt cases in a half-year but had attracted attention for their activities.