89 Chinese Provincial Officials Charged for Colluding with Local Mafia Groups

August 20, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

A criminal gang in China’s Hunan Province was recently charged by local authorities. Also, 89 local officials who for over 17 years served as the “protective umbrella” for gang members were charged on corruption allegations.

On Aug. 19, Li Dianxun, secretary of the provincial Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) and leader of the local “sweeping and eliminating evils” campaign, announced that 23 criminals were charged for gang activity.

The gang was led by Shang Tongjun and Wu Xianyao, who engaged in criminal activities for nearly 20 years in the form of “political and business alliances” in Xiangxi prefecture, in the west of Hunan. Li said former senior officials in local government formed a “protective umbrella” for the group.

Shang and his group were invested in and operated companies that engaged in illegal mining, fraud, falsifying records, and other criminal activities. Illegal assets exceeded 600 million yuan (more than $86.6 million).

The group was involved in a homicide stemming from conflicts in a casino business. Under the instruction of Wu, Wang Wujin shot a man named Shi Yuanhui to death. To prevent him from divulging details of the homicide, Wu ordered Wang to be killed, mutilated, and burned. The gang was involved in 43 organized crimes, including four murder cases. Twenty of the 23 charged individuals were involved in the murder cases.

On July 30, Shang and Wu were sentenced to death for the crimes of organizing and leading gang activities, and intentional homicide. The other 21 were sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for 8 to 22 years.

Abuse of Power

Also in the verdict was Ouyang Xu, a Hunan native and former director of the local police bureau and Communist Party secretary committee of Xiangxi. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes and abuse of power.

In 2012, Ouyang Xu misused his authority to release Wu from prison, according to the verdict.

Since the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party and the communist regime, the party has associated its political movements with cracking down on mafia groups and those who provide a protective umbrella for them—in effect to target political opponents, such as the Gang of Four during the Cultural Revolution.

Other senior officials known to have served as protective umbrellas for gangsters are Zhang Yue, former member of the Hebei provincial standing committee and Party secretary of the Hebei PLAC, arrested in 2018; and Zhou Yongkang, former head of the national PLAC, who was sacked in 2014.