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February 5, 2013

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Cops nab 50, bust gangs conning foreign tourists

IN an all-too familiar scenario, a Spanish tourist, who was lured into a bar in Shanghai, ended up shelling out 14,980 yuan (US$2,402) for drinks.

The tourist, identified only as Martin, fell to the charms of a woman who invited him to a bar in Zhabei District last September and was later handed with a 40,000 yuan bill. Surrounded by a gang of people, he was forced to part with his bank card and 14,980 yuan.

He was not alone in his ordeal. In a citywide crackdown from September to November, police said they busted nine such gangs and detained 50 people, including four who cheated Martin.

Police also said yesterday that they cracked down on 90 gangs involved in various organized crimes.

"The gangs target many aspects of daily business ranging from logistics, transport, catering and even home decoration industries," said Zhang Yi, a Shanghai police detective probing organized crimes. "The big guns have been unable to find roots in the city because of our supervision," said Zhang. "So we have turned our attention to these smaller rings and solved some of the cases."

Some constructors and interior decoration workers are involved in illegal activities in residential communities, where they are known to threaten the apartment owners, police said. With competition being fierce, it has led to gang wars.

Police have also cracked down on property management bodies which worked with these gangs.

In a widely reported case last May, police apprehended 59 people who were involved in a fight in downtown Nanjing Road E., a busy shopping hub in Huangpu District.

The groups fought pitched battle over dominance of public areas to hand out fliers to the public.

Most of those detained were either unemployed or came to help their friends in the fight, while others helped with "collecting debts" and protection money from entertainment venues.


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