60 swooped up in gang crackdownLocal | Erin Chan 31 Mar 2020
Fifteen students, including a 12-year-old, were among 60 people arrested in connection with seven street gang cases in Tuen Mun during a police operation against juvenile delinquency.
The operation, code named "Stepshadow," was carried out from March 22 to 29 and saw 32 men and 28 women aged between 12 and 49 years old arrested. Among them, 40 were aged below 24 and seven had triad backgrounds.
They were arrested for offenses relating to actual bodily harm, criminal damage, blackmail, criminal intimidation, indecent assault and drug trafficking.
Four people have been charged with drug trafficking and appeared in court over the past week while the rest have been released on bail pending investigation.
Three cases were drug-related, in which the suspects were said to have sold drugs to teenagers on social media.
In a series of raids, HK$19,000 worth of drugs totaling 21 grams and cash amounting to HK$115,000 were seized at 23 locations such as entertainment venues.
Officers also seized axes, machetes and metal pipes in an armory as well as 300 bottles of alcohol in an unlicensed pub related to the cases.
"There has been an escalating trend of youth gangs carrying out criminal activities since early this year," said Lee Suk-yee, assistant commander of the Tuen Mun investigation unit.
"Offenses including attacks, assaults, burglaries and robberies carried out by youngsters have been on the rise In particular, cliques and mobs were of concern within the community."
Shing Wai-yan, inspector of the police force's anti-triad unit, said the operation was divided into two phases.
"The first phase included the collection of intelligence about criminal activities, such as bullying, criminal intimidation, debt collection-related vandalism, indecent assault and drug-related cases," Shing said, but did not give information on phase two.
Wong Sau-ling, chief inspector of the Tuen Mun investigation unit, added that a community support service scheme was introduced in the operation so that the young suspects may get their lives back on track.
"So far, 40 of them have been referred to the relevant welfare NGOs and their social workers will follow up," she said.
The operation came after a 17-year-old girl was arrested on February 25 in relation to a violent youth gang bullying video that went viral.