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December 8, 2009

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4 sentenced to death for a series of gang crimes

FOUR people were sentenced to death yesterday after being convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering, fraud and selling counterfeit currency in southwest China.

The four were convicted by the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, of organizing a criminal gang with 41 members.

The court handed death sentences to Jiang Jiatian, leader of the gang, his mistress Yang Jufen, her father Yang Guoying and Xie Mingxiang, another core member.

Li Wencai, a woman who played a lead role in the gang's drug trafficking, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, which means her sentence could be commuted to life in prison if she behaves well during the reprieve period.

The 36 other members of the gang received jail terms ranging from 18 months to life.

A court spokesman said Jiang, 56, made a fortune from drug trafficking in the mid 1990s.

He had invested the illicit income in at least 10 teahouses, Internet cafes and hotels in Kunming. Most of his businesses turned out to be dens for prostitution, extortion, racketeering and sales of drugs and counterfeit bank notes, the spokesman said.

Some of Jiang's relatives and friends were a part of his gang. Most of them were jobless and some were former convicts, the spokesman said.

The gang had disrupted social order in at least three villages in Kunming's suburbs and many villagers wrote to local governments complaining they felt "unsafe."

In September, the court heard that the gang smuggled and traded a variety of narcotics over an extended period of time.


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