Renwu Precinct of Kaohsiung City Police Department, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Taiwan police on Saturday nabbed 36 people who were allegedly caught red-handed managing or participating in a gambling game called tien gow that uses Chinese dominoes, amid the Ching Ming Festival, also known as the tomb-sweeping holiday.

Police say they raided a corrugated-iron warehouse in a rural area of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, after receiving reports of an odd upsurge of “grave-sweeping” visitors in shuttle buses heading to hilltops on Linshan Lane in the city’s Renwu area, where there were few public graveyards, United Daily News reported.

Preliminary investigation suggested that a 37-year-old Taiwanese man surnamed Liang who was a repeat offender for organizing illegal gaming in the city had been setting up mobile gambling tables on the hills during the holiday.

At 1:40am on April 7, the third day of operation of the gaming tables, police raided the warehouse, where 12 Vietnamese women and 20 other gamblers were arrested.

The Vietnamese, who were immigrant wives, told the police that they understood little about the Chinese grave-sweeping ritual and so they made good use of their free time to make some quick money through gambling while their husbands were busy visiting the graveyards.

Liang and three accomplices were also arrested on suspicion of organizing illegal games. About NT$46,000 (US$1,570) was seized by police during the raid.

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