Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chang flees in gunfights

FIVE SHOOTOUTS Two members of Chang's gang were captured, while four police officers were sent to hospitals with injuries from the morning battles

STAFF WRITER

Lee Jin-cheng, right, an alleged associate of the gangster Chang Hsi-ming, sits handcuffed in police custody after being captured in a joint operation between the Criminal Investigation Bureau and Kaohsiung County Police.

PHOTO: CNA

Two members of fugitive Chang Hsi-ming's (張錫銘) criminal gang were captured early yesterday morning in Kaohsiung county, after a series of five gun battles. Chang managed to escape, according to local media. Chang himself is still on the run with the remainder of his gang.

He was last seen with accomplice Chen Jin-hsiung (陳進雄) at around 5:30am yesterday morning, escaping the police siege with a hostage.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau declared war on the gang and established a special task force yesterday, dubbed "Operation Dragon Hunt," to ensure their capture.

The exchange of gunfire began at 2am, as almost 1,000 police, led by Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau Ho Yu-yi (侯友宜), encircled Chang's headquarters in Daliao, Kaohsiung.

Four of the gang members, dressed in bulletproof vests broke through the ranks of policemen, and began to shoot at officers when confronted.

The gang fled to a nearby hiding place at a farm and fruit orchard. Kaohsiung police were notified of the operation, and sent ammunition and reinforcements to the site.

Four policemen were sent to Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital after sustaining injuries in the second round of gunfire. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

At 5:30am, police were tipped off to the gang's whereabouts by an alarm from an abandoned restaurant. There they discovered two unidentified men attempting to steal a reporter's car.

The men wore bulletproof vests, and took a seventy-year old man hostage when they learned they had been sighted. The hostage was identified only by his family name, Jen.

Unable to start the car without keys, the men then shoved Jen to the ground and took hostage a security guard who was making rounds in his vehicle.

The two men who escaped were later identified as Chang and Chen.

Gun battles continued in the area between police and cornered criminals. At 7:20am, police took into custody gang members Lin Guo-chong (李國忠), who suffered a bullet wound, and Lee Jin-cheng (李金成).

Lin was shot in the chest, but was not seriously injured because he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

In the metal shack used by Lin and Lee as a temporary hiding place, police discovered NT$6.5 million in cash and two grenades.

The weapons used by the gang members in the fight included military-style assault rifles. Police discovered Chang's hostage, Wu Hsin-chang (吳信璋), abandoned in the getaway car in Tungshan, Tainan county.

Chang is the former bodyguard of the gangster Chan Lung-lan (詹龍欄), who once evaded capture by hiding in the mountains. Chang has also eluded authorities by hiding in the Tungshan area in the past.

Police have information from captured gang members that Chang has at least a month's supply of food and ammunition stored in Tungshan. Authorities anticipate a difficult siege, as this is the fourth time Chang has escaped a police ambush.

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