Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Task force set up to nail veteran kidnapping gang

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police yesterday declared war on a crime group led by fugitive Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘), establishing a task force to hunt it down.

"I hereby announce that the ... special task force has been established," said Kao Cheng-sheng (高政昇), secretary-general of the National Police Agency's Criminal Investigation Bureau.

"We have assigned the majority of criminal investigation officers to work with the SWAT team in Tainan and are hoping that we can arrest all of them at some time in the near future," he said.

Kao said that police officers are hunting what they believe to be a six-man crime group who started kidnapping victims in 1995.

Chang is a former bodyguard for Chan Lung-lan (詹龍欄), known as "the Pangolin" for his escapes from custody, who is now serving jail time for involvement in more than 10 cases of robbery, drug smuggling, murder and kidnapping. Chan was finally arrested by Chinese police and then extradited to Taiwan for trial on April 2, 2002.

Police sources reported that Chang and his gang colleagues are armed with grenades, AK-47s and M-16 rifles.

"As with Chan, Chang and his fellow gang members are quite familiar with the mountains of southern Taiwan," Kao said.

The bureau suddenly announced a warrant yesterday because Chang and his members were involved in yet another kidnapping case recently, getting away with at least NT$36 million.

Local newspapers reported that the gang kidnapped Hohsin Bus company owner Yang Chin-yuan's (楊錦元) second-oldest son on July 2.

Hohsin is one of the nation's major bus companies. Police have refused to reveal the full name of Yang's son.

According to the report, Yang's son was on his way to visit friends in Tainan County's Chiku township. Three minutes after leaving home, he was pulled over by a black BMW 760 sedan.

Witnesses said that one man pulled out a pistol and shot at least four bullets into the hood of Yang's black Mercedes ML320 SUV, telling him to get out. Yang attempted to drive off but the gunman shot out his tires.

Yang was released on Sunday after a ransom was paid, but police would not confirm the details of the case. Family members also refused to be interviewed.

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