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Monday, 4 May, 1998, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Macau moves against gangs
Wan Kuok-koi, nicknamed 'Broken Tooth Koi', is escorted into court to face charges of attempted murder and drug trafficking
The authorities in the Portuguese enclave of Macau are introducing new legislation on Monday as part of a bid to boost their fight against organised crime. The move follows a series of arrests in recent days of alleged members of criminal gangs operating in Macau, including the man suspected of being the leader of one of the most powerful triad societies. From Hong Kong, Jill McGivering reports:

The arrest of Wan Kuok-koi is being seen as a major turning point for the authorities in Macau in a dramatic battle against organised crime. Wan, also known as Broken Tooth Koi, is thought to be the leader of the powerful triad society, the Fourteen K.

He and five other men were charged on Sunday with a range of crimes, from membership of a triad society to drug trafficking and involvement with a series of recent murders.

Now the authorities are taking the further step of introducing new laws, which will increase the power of the police to conduct undercover operations and offer greater protection to witnesses.

The authorities have also called on the police in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand for help in tracing other suspects who are thought to have fled Macau. The impetus for this latest crackdown came on Friday when a senior police officer narrowly escaped death when a bomb destroyed his car.

At least eight other murders so far this year have been linked to gang violence, including the violent deaths of a senior customs officer and the man ranked third in Macau's gambling inspectorate.

The recent surge in gang crime is thought to have been sparked off by a turf war between rival triad societies who are battling for control of Macau's lucrative gambling industry.

The lawlessness has proved a growing embarrassment to Macau, which reverts from Portuguese to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999. The negative publicity has also inflicted considerable damage on the local tourism industry.

See also:

21 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Further gambling related murder in Macau
01 May 98 | Asia-Pacific
Fire attack on Macau police chief's car
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