GUANGZHOU: Courts in Guangdong are handling a growing number of triad cases involving local youngsters and people from outside the mainland, a senior provincial judge has said.
Chen Chao, presiding judge with the First Law Court under the Guangdong High People's Court, said the increasing number of cases will worsen the environment for children if effective and concrete measures are not taken quickly.
"Many young people have become members of local secret societies and this is a concern for the whole of society," he said.
Addressing a press conference in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, on Monday, Chen said there was a growing trend for such crime in the prosperous province, which borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
He said Guangdong courts will hand out serious punishments to any triad members found guilty.
Late last month, the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court heard a case involving 14 members of a triad.
Apart from Feng Zhixi, the leader of the Heilong (Black Dragon) gang, the 13 other defendants were in their teens and twenties. Three of them were underage.
A similar case was heard in Foshan Intermediate People's Court in July, where eight of the 17 defendants were in their 20s and one was a minor.
They were investigated for their alleged participation in murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion and theft.
In addition to the rising problem of young gang members, Chen said there was a growing number of people from outside the mainland getting involved in this type of organized crime.
However, he did not give details of the number of triads controlled by foreigners or people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
Most of the province's triads are based in prosperous cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Jiangmen in the Pearl River Delta.
Courts at all levels in Guangdong handled 228 triad cases involving 1,833 people between February 2006 and July 2007. Of those, 208 have been concluded, with 1,714 criminals punished.
Several notorious leaders and key members of secret societies have been executed, landing a heavy blow in the fight against triads, Chen said
Wu Shenguang, a lawyer, said there had been an increase in the number of cases involving juveniles in Guangdong in recent years.
Some youngsters were influenced by domestic and overseas TV programs featuring sex and violence.