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Anhui rooting out organized crime

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-08 09:53
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By the end of April, Anhui province had broken up 1,267 criminal gangs as the province continues a campaign that began in January 2018 against organized crime.

A total of 594 cases associated with criminal gangs have been heard and 1,253 officials who provided them with "protective umbrellas" received Party disciplinary or administrative penalties, including 122 being transferred to judicial authorities for suspected criminal involvement, provincial authorities said at a news conference in Hefei on Tuesday.

Last month, 137 gangs were shut down after the central authorities sent a team to Anhui for a monthlong inspection to oversee operations against organized criminal activity.

Local police said the first major criminal gang prosecuted in the campaign had been conducting illegal activities for years in Bengbu, Anhui.

Liu Zhaoben and his three brothers from Xinchengkou village began trading gravel in the 1990s and established a construction company in 2002.

In 2005, the four siblings began illegal mining activities and amassed enormous profits. Liu became the village's Party secretary with support from Yin Zhaocai, a major official from Macheng township, which governs Xinchengkou in Bengbu's suburbs.

The exorbitant profits from the business allowed the brothers to attract more partners in crime, and they began forcefully coercing less compliant villagers to do business with them.

The police said the group became a criminal gang in 2007, when more than 100 of Liu's men attacked neighboring villagers over rights to a power plant construction project.

Yin helped the Liu brothers avoid legal ramifications after the violence, and most locals dared not offend the gangsters after it became clear the latter could act with impunity.

Since then, no one could mine in the village without permission from the Liu gang.

In March 2012, the gang blocked access to and from the power plant in order to monopolize sales of the plant's coal ash, which can be used as construction material.

Suspension of the power plant's electricity generation affected large areas in the east of the country.

Over the years, multiple people were allegedly killed and some family graves of villagers were allegedly desecrated by the gang in acts of revenge against opponents.

In 2015, provincial authorities began looking into the gang following complaints from locals.

When preliminary investigations were completed, massive arrests were ordered on Jan 23, 2018, with more than 200 officers sent to carry out the operation.

So far, 92 members of the gang have been arrested and hearings will be concluded soon, according to Bengbu police.

Illegal profits gained by the gang stood in the billions of yuan, and authorities have frozen 1.1 billion yuan ($163 million) in cash and related assets.

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