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Chongqing cracks down on local mafia, 46 arrested

Updated: 2010-07-23 23:46
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CHONGQING - Police in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality arrested 46 people involved in a mafia-style gang, including a major shareholder of the local Hilton Hotel that was recently targeted by police because of its involvement in prostitution. Two government officials were also arrested.

Peng Zhimin, 47, owner of Qinglong Property Development Co, was arrested on multiple charges including allegedly managing a mafia-style organization, organizing prostitution, crimes of intentional injury, illegal occupation of farmland, and bribery, according to a statement emailed to Xinhua by the municipal public security bureau.

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Peng was detained last month after police shut down the local Hilton Hotel on June 21 as it allegedly provided shelter for Peng's underworld gang, which ran a prostitution ring at the hotel.

Peng, a major shareholder of Chongqing's Hilton, ran the Diamond Dynasty Club in the basement of the hotel which, according to the statement, sheltered crimes including prostitution, drug abuse, gambling and gang activities.

He also is charged with seeking protection from officials by bribing them with money and sex.

Peng, a junior high school graduate, served jail time in the early 1980s for theft. He earlier built a fortune through manufacturing and selling fake cigarettes in the 1980s and  began operating in the real estate business in 1993.

Also, the former director and vice director of a district-level agricultural, forestry and water resources bureau in Chongqing were arrested Friday for shielding the gang, according to the statement.

Besides Peng and the two officials, police also apprehended 43 others related to the gang.

Police in Chongqing have been engaged in a wide-ranging mafia crackdown that resulted in a death penalty verdict handed down to the city's former deputy police chief in April.