Mastermind behind kidnapping of Bossini heiress hid in Hong Kong for 11 days
After arrest of all nine suspects, details emerge of how mastermind evaded capture before being caught with only 10pc of HK$28m ransom
Clifford Lo and Mimi Lau in Guangdong
A Guangdong police photo of four of the arrested suspects. Photo: SCMP Pictures
Hong Kong and mainland police have revealed that the mastermind behind the brazen kidnapping of Bossini heiress Queenie Rosita Law eluded arrest in Hong Kong for 11 days before fleeing to the mainland in the dead of night on May 6.
When the leader, identified only as You, was caught in Huidong county, Guangdong, three days later with another member of the gang, they had on them HK$2.8 million, just 10 per cent of the HK$28 million ransom they escaped with.
Where they stashed the remainder of the ransom remained a mystery, Guangdong police said yesterday as they revealed more details of the kidnapping of Law from her Clearwater Bay home on April 25.
Guangdong police reveal details of the operation. Photo: SCMP Pictures
The arrests of all nine suspects mark a milestone in the massive cross-border manhunt that entailed searches taking police from the hillsides of a country park in Hong Kong to several southern counties on the mainland.
A total of eight gang members were nabbed in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Huizhou in Guangdong, as well as in Guizhou province. A ninth was arrested first, on May 3 in Hong Kong, and has been charged.
Guangdong police said seven of the gang arrived in Hong Kong early last month and spent two weeks scouting and surveying luxury homes in the Fei Ngo Shan area before “finally selecting” Law’s residence as a target.
Apart from the HK$2.8 million in cash, police also recovered part of the loot of watches and jewellery worth HK$2 million the gang allegedly stole from the house.
The gang members staggered their exit from the city over a number of days, with two leaving almost immediately after the ransom was handed over by Law’s family on April 28. You was apparently last to leave on May 6.
It is understood that several of the nine had previous criminal records.
“We are trying to find out their escape route because it is possible they may have hidden the money on a hillside in Hong Kong or mainland China while on the run,” one Hong Kong police source said.
The source added that police from both sides were trying to piece together information about the treks the gang made while in Hong Kong and on the mainland, and people they could have met before they were captured.
Police previously reported six suspects had been arrested in Guangdong, as well as one in Hong Kong. Yesterday’s announcement brings the total number captured to nine.
But it is not clear if all six of the core gang members who carried out the kidnapping are among them. Guangdong police would not confirm this, but a Hong Kong police source suggested the kidnap leaders were in custody.
“We believe all the members of the gang involved in the robbery and kidnap have been netted,” said the source.
But he did not rule out the possibility that the money was being held by an as-yet unknown person still at large. “We will continue the hunt for the ransom in Hong Kong for at least one or two more weeks,” he said.
A team of officers is being tasked to check footage of security cameras collected on the streets in Sai Kung, Tai Po and Sha Tau Kok, as well as immigration checkpoints.
“In the first week after Law was kidnapped, more than 100 crime squad officers worked around the clock and they slept only two or three hours a day.”
After the arrests, the next question is where the gang members will be charged.
Asked whether those arrested on the mainland would stand trial in Hong Kong, Senior Superintendent Anthony Tsang Ching-fo, head of the Kowloon East regional crime unit, said police would liaise with mainland authorities on the best solution. He said they would seek legal advice from the Department of Justice if necessary.
The alleged gang member arrested in Hong Kong, Zheng Xingwang, 29, has been charged with one count of conspiring to take or detain a person by force, commonly known as kidnapping. He will next appear in Kwun Tong Court on July 7.
Zheng was arrested when he tried to leave Hong Kong for Shenzhen at the Lo Wu immigration checkpoint.
Tsang hailed the arrests on both sides of the border as the result of close cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland law-enforcement agencies.
“No matter where criminals hide, Hong Kong and mainland police will spare no effort to track them down and bring them to justice,” he said.
Another Hong Kong police source said it was unknown whether the mastermind was actually involved in the on-the-ground execution of the crime because they wore surgical masks and the kidnapping victim was blindfolded during her three-day ordeal.
“We don’t rule out one of the seven suspects who came to Hong Kong acted as a lookout [at the time of the kidnap],” this source said.
Law was held for three days at a secluded cave in Fei Ngo Shan before her kidnappers called her father and demanded more than HK$40 million. That amount was reduced to HK$28 million and Law was released on April 28 within an hour of her father paying the ransom.
The cave has not been located, according to police.
SUSPECTS NETTED ONE AFTER ANOTHER
April 25: A gang of six Putonghua-speaking men enter the Clearwater Bay home of Queenie Rosita Law, steal HK$2 million in cash and valuables and kidnap the Bossini heiress.
April 30: Hong Kong police inform Guangdong public security authorities of the abduction and request their assistance. A task force is set up with Shenzhen police leading the investigation.
May 2: Mainland task force meets Hong Kong police to discuss investigation strategy.
May 3: Hong Kong police intercept suspect trying to cross into mainland. Police across the border arrest four more suspects in Shenzhen, Dongguan , Huizhou and Guizhou .
May 4: Police arrest two more suspects in Shenzhen hotel.
May 9: Two more suspects are arrested in Huizhou.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Kidnap gang boss hid in HK for 11 days
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 May, 2015, 8:42am