HONG KONG Police in the world gambling capital Macau arrested five people on Saturday on suspicion of planning to commit murder as the territory off the coast of China braces for the imminent release from jail of a notorious gang leader.
One of those arrested, local media said, was former police officer Artur Chiang Calderon, who was believed to be a key player in the infamous 14K triad society.
Calderon was first arrested in 1998 along with Wan Kuok-koi, commonly known as ‘Broken Tooth', the leader of the 14k. Both men were involved in a string of bomb attacks and bloody gang wars that rocked Macau in the 1990s.
Calderon was released after 10-and-a-half years in jail, while Wan is due to be freed on December 1.
Macau, a territory on China's southern coast famous for its lavish casinos, has been changed dramatically in the past 15 years into a magnet for high rollers and global investors.
Gaming revenue was $33.5 billion in Macau in 2011, more than five times more than that of Las Vegas.
From its roots as a seedy, crime ridden enclave where shoot-outs broke out in broad daylight, the former Portuguese colony, has been transformed by gleaming casino towers and luxury residential complexes. One in four Macau locals work in the gaming industry and the reliance on Chinese gamblers who flock across the border is growing ever more acute.
Police have been ramping up security ahead of Wan's release, asking casinos and hotels to remain vigilant.
"We are well equipped to handle all situations," a spokeswoman for Macau's judiciary police said, declining to mention any specific case.
The murder and mayhem seen in Macau in the late 1990s was sparked by the triads who attempted to capture the lucrative VIP gambling market.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Jon Hemming)