China’s Campaign Against Organized Crime Exposes Collusion Between Officials and Gangs

October 24, 2019 14:45, Last Updated: October 24, 2019 14:45
By Olivia Li ,

A campaign launched by Chinese authorities early last year to eradicate organized crime has uncovered widespread collusion between local officials and gangs.

In January 2018, Chinese authorities launched a three-year campaign to eradicate organized crime. Within two years, numerous officials in different regions, especially those working in public security and the judiciary system, have been found to provide protection to local gangs. In exchange for huge bribes, these officials protect gang members from lawsuits.

In the latest case, Ouyang Xu, the former head of the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) in Xiangxi Autonomous Region, was removed from his official post and expelled from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for numerous offenses, including protecting local triad groups, Hunan Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection, the CCP’s anti-corruption watchdog, announced on its website on Oct. 21.

The PLAC is a powerful Party agency that oversees security agencies within its jurisdiction. Interestingly, in March of this year, Ouyang was the local leader of the campaign to eradicate organized crime and he instructed his team members to “take it seriously and go deeper in our investigations.”

Collusion Between Officials and Gangs

From November 2018 to April 2019, several top police officials were sacked in central China’s Hubei Province and brought to trial for offering protection to gang members, including the head of the Wuhan Municipal Intermediate Court, the lead prosecutor at Wuhan Municipal Procuratorate, the deputy chief of the PLAC in Wuhan, and the police chief of Huanggang City.

Similarly, in the tourist city of Dali, Yunnan Province, eight local police officials were sacked together for covering up and protecting local gangs, including the former director, former deputy director, and five current deputy directors of Dali’s Municipal Police Department.

In Tianjin, so far 84 police officials were found guilty of covering up gang crimes. Among them, 17 were local top officials, and their crimes were considered very serious.

Some Police Are Members or Leaders of Gangs

Some public security officials are gang leaders themselves, as in the case of Chen Xianfu, the former deputy director of the Xiuying Branch of Haikou’s Police Department in China’s island province of Hainan.

According to an April 11 report by Beijing News, Chen led a gang of about 30 members. The group was said to have been involved in illegal mining, drug abuse, selling drugs, and “interfering with grassroots elections.” After Chen’s crimes were exposed by an anonymous letter writer and verified by local authorities, 378 policemen, including special police, were dispatched to arrest Chen and his gang.

When police stormed Chen’s residence and handcuffed him, Chen said, “I was once a first-class national hero. Be nice when you treat a fellow police comrade.”

Liu Li, a former prosecutor at Jiguan District of Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province, was also a local gang leader, and several of his family members were part of his organization.

In Wenxi County of Shanxi Province, a gang was involved in pillaging ancient tombs, illegal mining, and predatory lending. Officials at the Wenxi County’s Public Security Department have offered protection to this gang for many years. In addition, two deputy directors were involved in pillaging ancient tombs. Even the detonators and explosives used to smash open the tombs were provided to the gang by the police.

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