More than 3,000 organised crime gangs – including a major Shenzhen-based syndicate with close ties to triads in Hong Kong – have been swept up in a nationwide crackdown, according to China’s top law enforcement body.
On Wednesday, Wang Hongxiang, a senior official with the Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, said that by the end of last month, authorities had cracked down on 3,291 gangs and punished 77,669 corrupt officials or people who protected the gangs.
The action was part of a national campaign against organised crime that started in 2018.
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Wang said one case involved Chen Yongsen, a triad leader connected to Sun Yee On, one of the biggest and oldest triads in Hong Kong. He was detained by police in the southern city of Shenzhen in March 2018 and, in May this year, sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined 75 million yuan (US$10.8 million).
The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court said Chen’s crimes ranged from money laundering and blackmail to robbery and organising a crime syndicate.
Two other members of the gang were given suspended death sentences, another was jailed for life, and 70 others sentenced from 16 months to 20 years.
Zhang Hu, vice-governor of Guangdong province and director of a provincial task force against organised crime, said Chan Shek-por, a key member of Sun Yee On, helped Chen set up his gang.
Zhang said Chen started building the gang in the 1990s in the Fuyong and Shajing areas of Shenzhen, using Sun Yee On’s organisation as a model.
“Over nearly 30 years, he established a gang that had a stable core leadership, clear power hierarchy, large number of members, and huge power force,” Zhang said.
The group initially established its position through fights with other gangs, resulting in eight deaths, and the wounding of 18 people.
It went on to set up casinos and entertainment centres and used the profits to buy into companies and real estate. The gang were also protected by local officials, Zhang said.
In all, 34 officials and civil servants were suspected of corruption or providing protection to the gang, with 27 already facing court.
Previously, Shenzhen police said Chan set up a Shenzhen branch of Sun Yee On in the mid-1980s in the Shajing area, recruiting mainlanders as members.
A police crackdown in 1991 forced Chan to flee back to Hong Kong, but the Shenzhen branch continued to grow to have several hundred members in an operation overseen by Chan’s nephew, Chen Yaodong.
Chen Yaodong, along with more than 100 alleged gang members, were arrested in 2012 in a province-wide anti-graft campaign that targeted officials involved in bribery. Chen Yaodong was sentenced to life in prison in 2013.
Zhang said Guangdong had well-established procedures in working with the Hong Kong and Macau police to fight organised crime.
“We created a joint brand action to combat cross-border crime,” he said. “We also established a multi-level long-term cooperation mechanism ... as well as continuously adapting to changes in the types of cross-border crimes.”
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