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December 25, 2009

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Notorious gang leader in court

A FORMER congress deputy in Chongqing yesterday went on trial for leading a mafia-like gang that allegedly organized murder, prostitution and drug dealing.

Chen Mingliang, 52, owner of a prominent real estate company in Chongqing, fronted the city's No.3 Intermediate People's Court with 33 of his gang members, locally based reported.

The gang was charged with 13 crimes, including murder, gambling, intentional injury, and drug trafficking. The trial is expected to last six to eight days.

Chen was detained by police in June over gambling. He was found later to be the mastermind behind a local night club that organized prostitution, according to the indictment.

The night club allegedly earned more than 26 million yuan (US$3.81 million) for Chen and his gang.

Chongqing's former deputy police chief and justice bureau director, Wen Qiang, who faces a separate trial on charges of rape, bribery and offering protection to gangs, was reported to be a frequent visitor there.

The indictment did not mention Chen's tie with Wen. Yet according to an earlier police statement, Chen's gang was the biggest criminal ring that came under Wen's protection.

Prosecutors said Chen and his right-hand man Ma Dang offered a former city police chief, Peng Changjian, more than 130,000 yuan and US$30,000 in exchange for his protection.

Chen's gang claimed it was "the second government," prosecutors said.

Chen amassed money through financing businessmen to gamble in Macau, the indictment said. He earned more than 60 million yuan via this avenue.

Chen even controlled some casinos in Macau that would inform him how many these businessmen won or lost.

The gang used extortion and abduction methods to collect debts these businessmen accumulated in Macau.

Chongqing prosecutors have 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.

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


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