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October 26, 2009

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Man, wife face crime-gang trial

A SUSPECTED gang leader who allegedly tried to monopolize Chongqing Municipality's bus routes and taxis by using violence will face trial today.

Li Qiang, who owned dozens of businesses in the city and who was once a household name in Chongqing's transport business, faces seven charges including organizing and leading a mafia-like organization and vandalism.

Li's wife, who allegedly acted as the bookkeeper of the family business, and some of the couple's relatives will also face the court today, Chongqing Evening News reported yesterday.

Li, who was a deputy to Chongqing People's Congress when he was arrested on July 21, was reported to be among the organizers behind a citywide taxi strike last November.

By July this year, Li allegedly ran more then 100 bus routes covering Chongqing's 11 districts and counties. He also owned about 500 buses and hundreds of cabs, the newspaper said.

However, some of the routes he operated were grabbed from other companies, the newspaper alleged.

Li had also planned protests by bus drivers and cabbies in the city in recent years, the newspaper said, and was well connected with city officials.

An official dealing with complaints at Chongqing's municipal government became Li's friend in 1995 and was reported to have collaborated with Chongqing's traffic authorities several times to legalize Li's unlicensed businesses, the report said. The official surnamed Jiang is now under police investigation.

Several other cadres from Chongqing's traffic authorities and taxation bureau are also under investigation for allegedly accepting Li's bribes.

More than 700 suspects with links to organized crime have been arrested, Chongqing People's Procuratorate said last Friday.

Police raids also seized 24 suspected gang leaders and froze nearly 1.6 billion yuan (US$240 million) of assets recovered in the raids.

A total of 36 government officials, including 28 police officers, face charges of abusing their power and offering protection to local gangs.

The number of incoming calls to police has dropped 40 percent from a year ago since the city began a crackdown on gangs in late June.


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