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January 8, 2010

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7 mob bosses executed over reign of terror

SEVEN multiple murderers, leading figures in what was the biggest criminal organization in northern China's Hebei Province, were executed yesterday.

The men were responsible for dozens of murders and assaults along with other nefarious activities.

The seven, including mastermind Zhang Baoyi, ran the mafia-like gang that once dominated delivery services, long-haul bus routes, parking lots and fish wholesalers in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang.

The Supreme People's Court approved the death sentences imposed on the seven.

However, it imposed suspended death sentences on three other gang members who were condemned by lower courts, China National Radio reported yesterday.

Ninety-eight gang members went on trial and outside of murder and assault were found guilty of offenses including blackmail, tax evasion, holding and trading in firearms, running illegal casinos, usury and robbery.

Rapid growth

Zhang set up delivery firms in Shijiazhuang in 1997 and recruited unemployed people, lawbreakers, ex-convicts and even fugitives.

From February 2003, Zhang's organization rapidly expanded its criminal operations.

In Zhang's syndicate, each member was given different jobs with different ranks.

The highest ranked were organizers or leaders, while junior members worked as clerks, security guards and standover men.

The gang started a protection racket among operators of major long-haul bus routes between Shijiazhuang and other Hebei cities or cities in neighboring Shanxi and Shandong provinces.

Zhang expanded his businesses to the local recreational industry in February 2003, and delivery services in October of the same year.

The syndicate entered fish wholesaling at a local food market in March 2005, and a year later controlled the price of fish from Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong Province, destined for major cities in northern China including Beijing, Zhengzhou, Xi'an and Taiyuan.

Mining link

In May 2005, the gang launched a parking service and forced many drivers to use it by collaborating with traffic management officials.

At the same time, a senior gang member, Gao Yuehui, offered loans at exorbitant interest rates at the syndicate's illegal casinos.

Gao was among the seven executed yesterday.

The gang's tendrils spread so wide that at one stage it even had a foothold in the local mining industry.

The executions are the latest development in a sweeping crackdown on organized crime in China.

Two gang bosses in Guangdong were sentenced to death last month, and a gang leader who was the son of a high-ranking official was executed in November in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Also in November, a mob boss in southwest China's Chongqing City was executed as part of a massive crackdown that netted upto 2,900 suspects, including 14 high-ranking government and police officials.


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