GEORGE TOWN: The lucrative business spawned by growing tourism has caused the return of gangsterism in Penang, says the state's deputy chief police officer, SAC II Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar.
He said it has revived gangs like the "04" and "24". "They have returned to the scene to tell people how powerful they are and are using violence to either extort money or induct people to join their gangs," he said.
"They are also linked to syndicated activities like drugs, robberies and snatch thefts.
We are constantly monitoring, arresting and investigating their cases."
Abdul Rahim said gangsters would go to entertainment outlets and construction sites to extort money.
He said the gangs think there was money in entertainment outlets catering to tourists and locals.
Yesterday, 93 men, aged 16 to 42, were nabbed at a hotel entertainment spot in Gurney Drive at about 12.30am, following a tip--off of an impending gang fight.
Abdul Rahim said police identified 70 of the suspects as being Gang 04 members while 23 others belonged to Gang 24, adding that a joint team, led by state police D7 officer DSP Zailanni Amit, prevented the fight from happening.
"If we had not intercepted, the outcome would have been bad."
He said a urine test done on the suspects found 43 of them positive for drugs.
"We also found 12 of them had previous convictions in Pulau Tikus."
All 93 suspects arrested were remanded for four days.
Abdul Rahim said Gang 04's modus operandi involved extorting developers on the island, citing an incident on June 5 when a gang member allegedly sought protection money from a developer at a construction site in Relau.
"The chaos he caused at the site led to work being disrupted until the developer paid him. In another incident on July 8, a group of 20 assaulted two men and a woman while attempting to recruit one of them as a gang member."
Abdul Rahim said Gang 04 was not concerned about its inductee's age and would accept 15--year--old teenagers as members.
As for Gang 24, he said they were believed to have used force to coerce outlet owners to do business with them in the Northeast district, adding that five such cases had been identified in the last three months.
"On April 21, gang members allegedly broke a glass table and a door of a karaoke centre in Gurney Drive when its management refused to buy ice cubes from them.
"They would also order drinks and not pay for them until the management decides to do business with them." Abdul Rahman said 25 gangrelated criminal force cases had been identified state--wide.
He urged the public to come forward with information and identify the suspects as well as report to the police regarding their activities at 04--2221610.