|Ah Biu's syndicate started trafficking heroin in the Fruit Market area in March 1975. Heroin peddling were carried out around Canton Road and Waterloo Road, and the neighbouring Tai Fat Store and the first floor of the Tai Loy Restaurant were used for meetings, dispensing bribes, and as a general command centre. The rear lanes surrounding the area and alleys inside the Fruit Market were the preferred drug transaction points. Occasionally the syndicate would hide small packets of "white powder" in the counter on the first floor of the Tai Loy to be picked up by the "field mines" - drug carriers who solicited business in the streets.
Rarely were heroin transactions handled "in person". To avoid being caught red-handed, the traffickers would usually hide the drugs - in cracks in the wall, underneath staircases, below timber planks, inside wooden packing cases, etc - for customers to collect by themselves. Retired ICAC Principal Investigator Louis Cheung who had taken part in the Fruit Market investigations recalled: "The Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market was an ideal venue for running a drug trafficking business. It covered a vast area lined with numerous fruit stalls and stands that offered a huge number of heroin "mining (hiding) points". Most people entering the market were familiar faces, so strangers were easily spotted. The Fruit Market was a warren of narrow lanes with countless cross-sections and passes, making it almost impossible for law enforcement officers to catch people on the run. There were also a lot of drug addicts in the area. Demand for drugs was huge, and the Fruit Market naturally became the drug addicts' version of a watering hole."
With law enforcement officers on the payroll and looking the other way, Ah Biu's illicit enterprise began to boom. According to subsequent witness statements, business turnover for the drug syndicate was modest to begin with - about $1,000 a day. This included $100 or $200 earmarked for bribes, or "grease money." In January 1976, the syndicate got an unexpected boost when Police anti-drug operations wiped out some major drug suppliers in Kowloon City. As a result, drug addicts from that part of the town crowded into Yau Ma Tei for their heroin fixes, boosting Ah Biu's daily sales to tens of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors in the drug case later estimated Ah Biu's syndicate at a certain period made between $30,000 and $70,000 a day, or a monthly average of almost $2 million.
Dealers and the corrupt officials who protected them went to elaborate lengths to conceal their collusion. Addicts were occasionally "caught" buying or carrying drugs. But these staged arrests were conspiracies between the syndicate and corrupt officers to present a picture to senior officers of vigorous law enforcement at the street level.