China rounded up over 51,000 people in a mass crackdown on its fearsome Triad mafia

Chinese officials from Hong Kong, Guangdong, and Macau have rounded up over 51,000 drug addicts and suspected members of China’s organised crime syndicate, The Triad, according to the South China Morning Post.

The sting, called ‘Thunderbolt 15’, caps a three month effort to reign in Triad activity.

These roundups have been happening every year since 2000. However, last year’s operation was put on hold because Occupy Central — a Hong Kong protest movement — was in full swing.

That, combined with President Xi Jinping’s year-plus long corruption crackdown, has made this year’s Thunderbolt 15 sting more important than ever. Usually it only lasts one month. Police raided 7,500 locations in Hong Kong and confiscated loads of drugs and weapons.

Here’s the breakdown of who got arrested:

  • 11,339 were arrested for various crimes on the mainland.
  • 31,651 “drug addicts” were arrested in Guangdong, the Chinese province bordering Macau and Hong Kong.
  • 3,977 were arrested in Macau.
  • 4,343 people were arrested in Hong Kong.

Here’s why this matters. China’s economy has slowed down dramatically over the last year. President Xi says this is part of the ‘New Normal’ plan to move to move the economy from one based on investment, to one based on consumption.

However, observers are starting to posit that the anti-corruption campaign is part of what’s hurting the economy. This has most certainly been felt in gambling hub Macau, where the fear of being seen as ostentatious has kept mainlanders away.

Monthly gross gambling revenues have fallen 30% to 50% from the same time a year.

The Triad has been involved in Macau’s gambling business since its inception, which means this Thunderbolt sting is likely to be another shock to the system.

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