Posted on: August 3, 2022, 10:50h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2022, 11:02h.

The Wo Shing Wo triad is one of the most entrenched criminal organizations in Asia, and in particular, Hong Kong. It’s been able to survive for so long because of help from inside the police force, and three officers have been found guilty in court for giving it assistance.

Police constables Chiu Kwong-lam and Cheung Tsz-kin
Police constables Chiu Kwong-lam and Cheung Tsz-kin outside a courthouse in Hong Kong. A judge has found them guilty of assisting a triad and its illegal gambling operations. (Image: South China Morning Post)

The three officers tipped off the gang to a surprise police raid that was going to take place on one of its illegal gambling dens in 2018, according to the South China Morning Post. Sergeant Chiu Kwong-lam and constables Lai Fuk-hong and Fu Yu-man, all long-time officers with the Hong Kong Police Force, now face up to seven years in prison. A fourth officer, Constable Cheung Tsz-kin, is free over a lack of evidence.

The triad would have likely suffered a huge blow if law enforcement had been able to carry out the raid. Instead, the four corrupt officials unwittingly unveiled the plan to a fifth individual, not realizing that he was an undercover officer who had infiltrated the triad.

Police Corruption Facilitates Triad Activity

The police officers had been providing information to people within the Tsuen Wan group, a faction of the Wo Sing Wo triad, about the impending raid. In order to derail the police investigation, the officers were going to set up a phony operation, complete with paid actors as gamblers. At the same time, the triad would move its gambling operation to a different location.

The goal was to put distance between the triad and the police. Of course, the actors would take the fall. But nothing was going to lead the police to the real operation.

In order to coordinate the subversion, triad bosses put the crooked cops in contact with one of their associates. That associate, unbeknownst to everyone, was an undercover cop who had previously established a role of confidence within the gang.

Days before the raid was to take place, all five met at a police station. There, the undercover officer learned from the others what was going on, how they were going to pull it off, and who was organizing the operation.

The undercover officer didn’t break character and later informed his superiors of what was happening. As a result, they called off the raid and arrested the corrupt officers.

In the trial that just wrapped up, Chiu, Lai, and Fu had no escape. They had delivered all of the incriminating evidence first-hand to the undercover officer. Now, they will remain in prison and return to a courtroom in September for sentencing.

The judge presiding over the case dismissed the charges against Cheung. The court determined that he did not knowingly participate in the activity. Instead, possibly because of a lack of experience on the force, he only followed orders.

Weak Defense Doesn’t Sway Judge

The corrupt officers’ defense team mounted an incredulous defense that never really stood a chance. They thought they could convince the judge that the undercover officer was not a reliable source of information, and therefore, his testimony was invalid.

To support their arguments, they used examples of the officer’s work. This included violating internal police protocols, participating in illegal activity, and unexcused absences from work. However, all of the examples were from his undercover involvement with the triad.

Logically, the court rejected the attempts. In addition, it also received evidence that showed how the officers had altered official records and ordered a delay of the raid. As a result, they had no suitable defense for their actions and will now pay the price.