Broken Tooth is Loose

The big news for December 1 is the release from Coloane Prison of notorious and violent triad boss Wan Kuok-koi (尹國駒), a.k.a. Broken Tooth Koi (崩牙駒), who served 14 years and seven months for crimes committed as the leader of the 14K triad.

Broken Tooth Koi

In the mid-1990s the 14K was the biggest organised crime gang in Macao, and in the years running up to the handover to China in 1999, law and order took a back seat to gang warfare in the streets over control of underworld profits from the gaming industry. In 1997 Macao newspapers received an unsigned letter that boldly asserted: "Warning: From this day on it is forbidden to mention Broken Tooth Koi in the press; otherwise bullets will have no eyes, and knives and bullets will have no feelings."

Some now believe Macao might see a resurgence of triad violence. When asked what he plans to do with his freedom, Koi was coy, answering "I suppose a player in this field", which in Cantonese could mean either as a triad member or simply an average joe. When pressed for details of whether he would get into the casino VIP junket business (operators arrange gambling trips for high rollers from mainland China, providing all manner of services such as money transfers, companions, and debt collection for the casinos), Koi replied "You don't need to ask this question."

With his old enemy the Shui Fong gang in control of the most profitable VIP rooms, it remains to be seen if Koi will lay low for a while (he will be monitored by a special police unit) or begin taking revenge. With everyone on high alert he probably would not risk a return to prison; if indeed he is plotting against Shui Fong it's likely he will do so from the shadows, despite his penchant for a flashy lifestyle (at the height of his power Koi was raking in US$6 million a month). Yet Koi also said: "I don't want to affect the stability of Macau. There's absolutely no way I want to do that. I want to be left alone."

Whatever the case, Broken Tooth is out, and he may well want a piece of the pie.

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