631 gangs smashed in three-year crackdown



November 19, 2003

Public security forces have smashed 631 mainland gangs in a three-year crackdown.

Tens of thousands of mobsters who corrupted officials, illegally controlled markets and "committed all forms of evil" had been arrested, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The news agency said more than 100,000 arrests were made between December 2000 and April this year as part of a campaign against gangs which have been resurgent amid loosened social and economic controls.

Those caught included 14,000 gang leaders who dominated economic activities in city neighbourhoods, villages, wholesale markets and individual industries, said the report carried on the agency's website.

In perhaps the most worrisome sign for the nation's leaders, the report said the crackdown had uncovered corrupt government and party officials who protected gang activities. The report did not say how many officials had been arrested.

"For years, these gangsters acted as local tyrants, corrupted party and government officials, committed all forms of evil and infuriated the people to the highest degree," the report said.

The campaign cracked 150,000 crimes, recovered 5,000 firearms and confiscated 530 million yuan (HK$498 million) in assets, Xinhua said.

"Load after load of malignant tumours were removed for the sake of society's serenity," the report said.

Gangs were rigidly suppressed after the communists seized power in 1949, but re-emerged with a vengeance as the party began to withdraw from many forms of social and economic life in the 1990s, creating opportunities for exploitation.

Xinhua said gang businesses discovered in the crackdown ranged from gambling dens to construction sites and mining operations.


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