Related News

Home » Metro » Society

Extortion in funeral industry - 19 in court

NINETEEN members of a suspected gang went on trial yesterday for alleged extortion and assault of business rivals in the funeral service industry.

Ring leader Zhou Wancheng, nicknamed "Little Tiger," was accused of dispatching his gang to at least 10 hospitals to control funeral services. The Zhabei District People's Court didn't announce a verdict yesterday.

Zhou, 46, a Shanghai native, was charged with organizing and leading a criminal gang. The other defendants were charged with joining a criminal gang.

All defendants were also charged with disturbing the peace, extortion and attempted group fights.

Prosecutors said the ring vandalized four competitors' stores and injured four store employees in a bid to monopolize the funeral service industry from November 2006 to March 2008.

They extorted 55,000 yuan (US$8,060) from four competitors as "compensation" for their withdrawal from a few hospitals, prosecutors added.

Zhou denied he had headed a criminal gang, but admitted using such tactics. He told the court he was just doing business and that his competitors worked in the same way.

The other defendants pleaded guilty, but claimed they were just following orders.

Zhou opened a wreath store in 1999. He soon expanded into selling urns and offering funeral feasts.

It's common in the industry for employees of funeral service providers to wait at the mortuary and at emergency room of hospitals. As soon as anybody dies, the employees will contact family members of the deceased in an effort to attract business.

To fight for business, Zhou allegedly recruited a group of hooligans and paid them 1,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan a month.

The gang also attempted to organize four group fights for business territory from November 2006 to July 2007. The fights didn't take place because their rivals fled, the indictment said.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend