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November 6, 2009

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Crime boss gets 20 years' jail

A CRIME boss was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined 1.01 million yuan (US$148,000) for heading a mafia-style gang in Chongqing yesterday.

The Chongqing No.2 Intermediate People's Court convicted Li Yi, also known as "Mickey Mouse," for running a gang that took control of the transport and free market business in the city's Linjiang Town.

Another court upheld the original 20-year sentence for another of the city's crime bosses, Zhou Xiaobo.

The cases against Li and Zhou were part of a months-long crackdown on crime organizations involving police and government officials.

The court also found Li guilty of arson, robbery, extortion, intentional injury and illegal possession of guns, according to China News Service.

Twenty-five members of Li's gang were jailed for terms from six months to 17 years. Two of them were given probation as they were exempted from the charge of involvement in a mafia-like gang.

Li started the gang in 2001 after he was released from jail after serving two years for rape, the court said.

The "Mickey Mouse" gang used physical violence and arson attacks to intimidate local business people and force others out of profitable businesses such as public transport in Kaixian County.

'The mouse says'

The gang was notorious among county residents. A common saying was "the mouse says, the county shakes."

In Zhou's case, Chongqing No.3 Intermediate People's Court upheld the original 20-year sentence and 50,000-yuan fine.

Zhou was found guilty of leading a criminal gang, illegal imprisonment and assault and battery. The court said Zhou coerced residents in Fuling County to pay protection money.

Zhou and his assistant Hou Shunli appealed the original sentences, arguing they were not operating a mafia-like gang. Hou was sentenced to 19 1/2 years and fined 50,000 yuan.

Zhou started to recruit released felons from 2005. He was a famed millionaire in Fuling before the crackdown as he controlled the dredging business in Baitao Township after forcing out other tenders. The business earned him thousands of yuan every year.

Altogether 19 alleged crime bosses and more than 2,000 alleged gang members have been taken into custody since police raids in July. Three men have been sentenced to death for gang-related crimes including murder and blackmail, and another three have been handed suspended death sentences in the big trial that began last month.


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