Chinese Police Use Drones to Break Up Gambling Rings
Chinese authorities use of drones to police illegal gambling operators continues to grow in scope and sophistication. A year ago, BOC wrote a story about the first bust of an illegal casino in mainland China. Since that time, Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts to beat illegal gaming dens using mobile surveillance.
Though casinos are illegal in China and those caught are punished harshly, gaming operators set up shop in all parts of the country. Illegal gambling is lucrative, especially on sports betting and lotteries.
Given the high stakes, finding an illegal gambling den is not easy. In most western countries, the gamblers themselves might receive a fine, but seldom a jail sentence. In China, both the organizers and the bettors face significant jail time. Gamblers can face up to three years in prison while ring leaders can be sentenced for 10 years.
In the west, disgruntled gamblers or those intimidated to pay back gambling debts might go to the authorities. That’s less frequent in China. So drones are a boon to Chinese police who raids gambling dens.
March 2019 Drone Raid
On March 25, with the help of a drone and a helpful tip, 50 officers waited a little more than half a mile away as they sent a drone over to inspect a remote area of Anhui, a province in eastern China, without drawing attention. They were able to provide actual live footage of the gambling den while holding their position.
The heavily guarded tent, which was continually relocated to avoid detection, was raided by police without any warning to the suspects. Immediately 13 of the 35 participants fled to into the woods, but were quickly followed by the drones which once again led authorities right to them. Along with the arrests, authorities seized roughly 30,000 yuan (US$4,466) as well as various gambling devices.
Adam Wandt, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Chinese law enforcement officials are years ahead of their western counterparts on drone usage. Wandt said, “It makes a lot of sense to me. I’m not surprised to see the Chinese government doing that.”
2018 Raids Helped by Drones
That is a far cry from even a year ago. Last year, Chinese police started using drones to assist them to locate and arrest illegal gamblers in several different provinces such as Fujian, Guangdong, Hubei and Guangxi. Drone usage at the time consisted of surveillance, but did not help in hot pursuit efforts.
At the time, drones assisted in surveillance of possible gambling activity during Chinese New Year. They have also helped to infiltrate a “residential complex” where a makeshift casino was being held.
On May 16 of last year Chinese police used drones to investigate an illegal gambling ring in the central Hubei Province. The raid ultimately resulted in a bust. Police arrested 12 gang members, 49 alleged gamblers at the time of the raid. They also retrieved the gaming den’s pot of 50,000 yuan (US$7,836) in cash.
The Wuan Public Security Bureau conducted the raid on both facilities of the illegal gambling operation which were located in the cities of Wuhan and Xiantoa, both of which are inside Hubei Province.
Chinese Police Use Drones Every Day
As the Chinese government implements a surveillance state, drones became a staple with Chinese city police. Wandt mentioned that China didn’t have the same level of commitment to civil liberties that residents of the U.S. might have. With less restriction come less concern and limit to using such technologies as a drone.
Adam Wandt said drones are less of a concern to everyday residents than hidden cameras. The technology expert said, “It’s not particularly invasive.”
The differences can be overstated. Though drones use in the U.S. is currently limited, Menashe Haskin, co-founder and chief technology officer of Edgybees, predicted that they will be used in every U.S. police department within the next two years.
How Drones Help Law Enforcement
As more goes into the development of drones the more their capabilities seem endless. Outside of surveying potential illegal gamblers, police can also use thermal heat to see through walls along with infrared cameras. Drones monitor large areas, as well, so they can follow trucks and other vehicles as they make deliveries.
Drones are capable of capturing video feed of potential suspects’ in action, even down to facial recognition technology.
Military uses of drone technology is great, such as overwhelming radar sites in a way that was impossible a generation ago. Obviously, the US military has perfected drone strikes. Mostly, though, militaries use drones to surveil multiple sites at once and will soon be the size of your hand. With miniaturization will come a whole new level of possibilities.
Drone Technology by Casinos and Gamblers
According to Wandt, large Macau casinos are using drones to help them with surveillance. The technology allows an aerial view of a venue’s entire facility, even reaching harder to surveil areas like parking garages. Wandt they are used a lot during special events or particularly busy times at a venue.
Drones are also less of a risk for surveillance staff, because they are unmanned — leaving less of a risk for any injuries or casualties. This makes it ideal for tracking illegal drugs and suspected terrorists, which is how U.S. Law enforcement uses them currently.
With every good use for smart technology comes people who misuse it. British racetracks have had to ban the use of unauthorized drones during horse races as gamblers would use them to get a closer look to gain an edge for wagering.