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November 11, 2009

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Authorities crack down on gangs, corruption

THE series of high-profile organized crime trials in southwestern China's Chongqing Municipality have proved just the tip of the iceberg in a nationwide battle against criminal gangs.

Police in southwestern China's Guizhou Province dealt with at least seven gang crime cases in 20 days in an intensive crackdown last month.

Police in Hunan Province, in central China, have reportedly broken up three major gangs in its Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture this year.

Across Hunan, 73 officials were found to have shielded gangs or been directly engaged in gang-related crimes.

China's police launched a long-term campaign against criminal gangs in 2006. As of September, more than 1,200 cases of gang crime have been dealt with across the country, with more than 13,000 gangs broken up and at least 89,000 people arrested.

The revelations of police officials colluding with criminals in Chongqing Municipality that started in June heightened coverage of the campaign.

Chongqing Mayor Wang Hongju revealed on Sunday that at least 200 local judicial officials had been found to be involved in organized crime.

Wen Qiang, former deputy director of Chongqing's public security department, was found to have shielded criminal gangs and committed other crimes while holding his post.

Wen will be prosecuted later this month in connection with the rape, money laundering, disguising or concealing the proceeds of crime, illegally holding firearms, offering loans at high interest, forging official and corporate seals, introducing women to prostitution and taking bribes.

Wen's sister-in-law, organized crime boss Xie Caiping, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after a first-instance trial last week.

Xie, labeled as the "godmother of the underworld" in Chongqing, was convicted of organizing and leading a criminal organization, running gambling dens, illegal imprisonment, harboring people taking illegal narcotics and bribing officials.

Another 21 people in Xie's case, including officials who protected gang members, were given jail terms ranging from one to 13 years.

Chongqing's procuratorate has issued arrest warrants for more than 800 suspects in the municipality's crackdown on gang-related crime, and more than 320 people have been prosecuted so far.

At least 52 local officials have been investigated or punished for shielding criminal gangs.


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