2,200 held after crackdown on gang crimes

Updated: 2011-09-16 07:15

By Zhang Yan and Cao Yin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Police have smashed nearly 300 triad gangs, conducting nearly 2,200 arrests, in a nationwide crackdown that started on Sept 1, a senior officer of the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

The operation, carried out in coordination with police in 11 provinces and autonomous regions, targeted heads and key members of gangs in Hebei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Guangdong, and other areas, Liao Jinrong, deputy director of the ministry's criminal investigation department, told China Daily.

Gang crime is a major priority for the government and police and "no effort should be spared to root out triad gangs", which threaten social stability and are detested by the public, Liao said.

Police planning for the crackdown, which is ongoing, started at the beginning of the year after a number of tip-offs by members of the public.

On Sept 2, in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, police arrested Guo Biwu, head of a triad gang that used to control Mawangdui Vegetable Wholesale Market.

The market is one of the nation's largest, with 6,700 tons of produce sold daily. Guo's gang were accused of manipulating prices as well as threatening and injuring storeowners who challenged them.

More than 1,200 police officers participated in the crackdown across the province targeting key cities such as Changsha, Xiangtan and Zhuzhou, and arrested more than 130 suspects.

On Sept 5 and 6, police in Nanping city, Fujian province, smashed four gangs involved in gambling, extortion and intimidation, and arrested 49 suspects.

About 300 suspects have been arrested and 190 criminal cases solved since September in the province, according to a report in the Legal Daily.

Liao said that the police were concentrating their focus on specific high-profit sectors, including mining, entertainment, logistics and construction, for clues of organized crime.

"The Ministry of Public Security will continue to dig into cases and collect evidence against those criminals, and punish them according to the law," Liao said.

He admitted that the fight against gang crime is an uphill battle as some triads have prospered under the protective "umbrellas" of local officials.

"Some law enforcement officers, along with State employees in key areas like tax, industry and commerce, have colluded with organized crime," he said.

"But no matter what governmental officials are involved, we will strike at collusion head-on and leave no stone unturned in our investigations," he said.

Public safety and stability demand that such "umbrellas" must not be tolerated, he said.

Dai Peng, a professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said crackdowns against organized crime are effective in the short term, but there are challenges ahead, including police corruption.

"There is no denying that some police officers are in collusion with gangs," he said.

Another factor to take into account is that sometimes police deal with triad-related crime without realizing that individual cases "are just the tip of the iceberg".

He also pointed out that triad members "are often young people who have dropped out of school but could not find a job". The solution to the problem lies with society as well as the police, he said.

Tang Hongxin, a lawyer at Ying Ke Law Firm, said punishment for triad-related crime is severe.

The head of a gang could face up to 15 years in prison, according to Criminal Law. Those convicted of fatal crimes or crimes that caused serious injury face the death penalty.