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39 village leaders sacked for crime links

By ZHENG CAIXIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-09 07:25

The heads of 39 villages in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong were removed from office and put under investigation in the first eight months of the year for suspected involvement in mafia-style gangs.

A People's Daily report published on Monday quoted Guangdong authorities as saying elections to replace the dismissed village Party chiefs and village committee directors were completed last month.

Police have busted a large number of violent gangs that used to be active in rural areas in a grassroots-level anti-triad campaign across the province since the beginning of this year.

The gangs active in some areas had posed a serious threat to grassroots governments and organizations, the authorities said.

In addition to drug crimes and robberies, the gangs interfered with grassroots elections, illegally owned weapons, illegally raised funds, were involved in frauds, produced and sold counterfeit products, and ran underground casinos, harming the interests of villagers.

They also used violence to monopolize local markets, forced locals to trade with them and then used the big profits they illegally earned to support their secret societies and drug and related crimes, the authorities said. Police seized 31 guns and froze 2.54 billion yuan ($390 million) worth of assets after busting 25 secret-society organizations and 85 violent gangs in rural areas during the campaign.

Liang Ruiguo, political commissar of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security, promised to redouble efforts to combat organized crime and gang activities in rural areas in the near future.

He hinted more special campaigns will be launched against such crimes in the months to come, focusing on exposing and shutting down crime networks and their protective umbrellas.

Zhai Kaixia, head of drug enforcement with the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security, said police seized more than 8.5 metric tons of drugs after cracking down on 9,083 drug and related cases in the province in the first eight months of the year.

A total of 11,338 suspected drug traffickers, including 26 Hong Kong and three Taiwan residents, were detained.

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