Sat, Feb 16, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Hsinchu police arrest seven people in gang sting

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Police in Hsinchu on Thursday arrested seven people suspected of being members of the Three Circles Gang for alleged profiteering by violence, blackmail and extortion.

Among the suspects arrested in the raids was an elderly man surnamed Lai (賴), who prosecutors believe is the gang leader.

Prosecutors said they intend to charge the seven with assault, blackmail and contraventions of the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例).

Gang members allegedly demanded protection payments from shops, restaurants and night market vendors in Hsinchu city and county, collecting an estimated NT$9 million (US$291,734) over the past few years, prosecutors said.

After receiving complaints, Hsinchu police placed the alleged gang members under surveillance and identified the company Jhudong Enterprise as a cover, they said.

Lai allegedly instructed gang members to collect protection money from businesses of up to NT$20,000 per month, prosecutors said, adding that if the businesses did not pay, gang members would splash excrement and urine onto the offending storefront or smash the shop with metal rods and baseball bats.

The gang’s most profitable sources of protection money came from night clubs, message parlors, businesses offering prostitution services and “modeling agencies” that provide young women for escort and sex services, police said.

Lai got his start in the 1970s as a gangster in the county’s Jhudong Township (竹東), then gathered members to form the Three Circles Gang, officials said.

They have previously pitched street battles with other gangs for control of territory, they added.

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