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Congress member stands trial over gangs

A FORMER Congress member in Chongqing Municipality stood trial today accused of leading a mafia-like gang that organized prostitution and drug dealing.

Chen Mingliang, 52, owner of a prominent real estate company in Chongqing, faced the city's No.3 Intermediate People's Court with 39 of his gang members, reported

The gang was charged with 13 crimes including murder, gambling, intentional injury, and drug trafficking. The trial will continue for six days to December 30, according to the report.

Chen was detained by police in June for gambling. He was later discovered to be the mastermind behind a local nightclub that organized prostitution, according to the indictment.

The nightclub named Yun Meng Ge earned than 26 million yuan (US$3.8 million) for Chen and his gang, the court heard. Chongqing's former deputy police chief and justice bureau director, Wen Qiang, who faces a separate trial for rape, taking millions of yuan in bribes, and offering protection to gangs, was reported to be a frequent visitor there.

The indictment did not mention Chen's connection with Wen. Prosecutors also said Chen and his right-hand man Ma Dang offered former city police chief Peng Changjian more than 130,000 yuan and US$30,000 in exchange for his protection.

Chen's gang used their connection with officials to cover for drug traffickers and other criminals, the court was told, and organized gambling tours for businessmen to Macau.

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


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