Gang war fears force Macau police to conduct casino raids

Aug 6, 2012 7:18 PM

Back in the 1990’s, when Macau was under Portuguese colonial rule, deadly gang wars left many people dead as different groups attempted to corner the gambling market. Since the enclave was returned to China, these gang wars were eliminated.

Or, so everyone thought.

Over the weekend, Macau police revealed they conducted a number of raids on casinos and hotels operating in Macau as part of a crackdown on violence. The operation, called “Thunderbolt,” was conducted with cooperation of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities.

Macau police revealed they had questioned nearly 1,300 people and detained 149 for further questioning. The operation was said to have been triggered by a number of murders and the personal assault on a veteran casino operator. He was identified as Ng Man-sun, who was beaten by six men in his own hotel in a dispute over ownership of his properties.

A police spokeswoman downplayed the sweep, saying, “This was an annual operation held jointly by Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong (province on the Chinese mainland). The operation didn’t have any specific target. Rather, it was aimed at policing the area.”

Officials would not identify specifically the properties involved in the raids. U.S.-based casinos operating in the area include: Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), and MGM Resorts International (MGM).