- Police in Macau arrest 15 for allegedly participating in illegal loan-sharking
- This is the third operation by security authorities in 2017 in a bid to stamp out casino-related crime
A sting operation carried out by the Macau Judiciary Police (PJ) has netted 15 individuals alleged to be part of an unlawful casino loan-sharking ring.
The operation targeted casinos in the Cotai area and according to Gambling Insider, local police have confirmed that the suspects are said to be part of a cartel that illegally loans money to gamblers and charges them excessively high interest rates.
This news comes in the wake of a similar operation that led to the arrest of 21 people on similar charges in March and June of this year. The authorities are still searching for the mastermind of the alleged loan-sharking ring and are cooperating with security authorities in mainland China where the suspects are said to originate from.
Some of the suspects are expected to be transferred to the Macau Public Prosecution Office where they will be questioned further and are likely to face charges for being part of an organized crime syndicate.
Increase in illegal activity
According to local police reports, casino-related crimes have been on the rise and loan-sharking is one of the nefarious activities that is proving to be difficult to completely stamp out.
Statistics released by PJ reveal a 38% rise in gambling related crimes from 2015 to 2016. In 2017, over 400 cases have already been reported which is a 15% increase from the previous year. Despite these worrying statistics, there is some respite since cases of usury (illegal money lending) have slowly began to decline since the cartels began to be targeted in sting operations.
It’s a trap!
Illegal loan-sharking operations often leverage on gamblers’ desperation to rake in huge profits.
Those who are unable to access quick credit often fall prey to loan sharks who normally avail loans conveniently and on short notice.
The catch is that most of the syndicates charge exorbitantly high interest rates on the money that is loaned out.
Usury is also closely related to gambling-harm since many individuals with gambling problems opt for easily accessible funds to keep going. The fact that usury is not backed by legal regulatory practices means that gamblers who take loans are subject to biased terms that may have negative repercussions in the long run.
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