Penang cops demolish gang that extorted developers

By TAN SIN CHOW | Jul 25, 2012

Penang cops demolish gang that extorted developers

GEORGE TOWN: Seventy members of a gang that extorted developers “in exchange for smoother operations during construction work” were detained.

The arrests came after police got wind of a possible clash between two rival gangs here.

The 70 detained were from Gang 04. Police also picked up 23 members of the rival Gang 24.

It is learnt that a meeting was held between the two groups in a karaoke centre at a hotel in Gurney Drive, where the two bosses discussed the issue of “poaching” of members.

One of the leaders was also said to be celebrating his birthday at the outlet.

Acting on information, a police team led by Deputy Supt Zailanni Amit swooped in on the place at 12.30am on Monday.

The officers picked up the 93 suspects, aged between 16 and 42, including 35 school dropouts. Forty-three of them tested positive for drugs.

Penang deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said he dreaded what would have happened if the police had not moved in to make the arrests.

He said gangsters were now interfering in developers’ operations after a police report was lodged last month against a Gang 04 member who apparently demanded protection money from a developer in Sungai Ara.

“Penang is a haven for gangsterism. The triad members would demand protection money from developers by claiming that the projects are in their territory.

“They would disrupt the projects if developers did not give in,” he said.

SAC Abdul Rahim said Gang 04 had been active in recruiting new members and intimidating those who refused to join.

He also said Gang 24’s activities involved forcing traders to deal with them, adding that at least five reports were received over the past three months on the matter.

“If shopkeepers refused to give in, the gang would come to the shops and wreak havoc by smashing the furniture,” he added.

He advised victims to call 04-222 1610.

SAC Abdul Rahim said police were also looking for at least 10 people to help facilitate investigations into the cases.