SINGAPORE - The police and Singapore Customs have arrested 55 people suspected to be from an organised criminal group that dabbled in criminal activities including unlicensed moneylending, operating illegal gambling dens and dealing with contraband cigarettes.
The 44 men and 11 women, aged between 19 and 79, were arrested during simultaneous raids carried out islandwide on Saturday (Oct 14), the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Customs said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The raids, conducted at more than 10 locations including Ang Mo Kio, Geylang, Sengkang, Toa Payoh and Yishun, yielded cash amounting to $596,517, documents that appear to be loan shark records, computers, mobile phones, gambling paraphernalia and more than 550 cartons of contraband cigarettes.
This was the first joint operation by the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Customs against an organised criminal group since the enactment of the Organised Crime Act 2015.
The police have begun freezing the suspects' bank accounts to stop criminal proceeds from being dissipated.
The organised criminal group was made up of networks of members who had different roles including operating as loan sharks, running illegal gambling activities, and peddling and storing contraband cigarettes, preliminary investigations suggest.
Investigations against all suspects are ongoing for offences under the Organised Crime Act 2015, Moneylenders Act, Common Gaming Houses Act, Societies Act, and Customs Act.
Anyone who is found guilty of being or acting as a member of a locally linked organised criminal group can be jailed up to five years and/or fined up to $100,000.
Those convicted of buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax evaded and/or jailed for up to six years.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Investigations & Intelligence) and concurrent Director of the Criminal Investigation Department Tan Chye Hee said the police have "zero tolerance against organised criminal groups that are involved in serious criminal activities which can pose a serious threat to Singapore's safety and security".
He added that the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Customs are "resolute in our enforcement and investigation efforts against organised criminal groups" and will "spare no efforts to continue to disrupt and dismantle these OCGs and deprive them of their ill-gotten gains".