Sat, Jul 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Officials announce organized crime crackdown drive

FIGHTING CRIME High-level law enforcement officials, bolstered by the arrest of Chang Hsi-ming, announced a new wave of crackdowns on gangsters

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan, left, Minister of Justice Morley Shih, right, and other officials yesterday attend a special Cabinet meeting to discuss how to prevent vote-buying ahead of the year-end local government elections.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyan (蘇嘉全), Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林), State Public Prosecutor-General Wu Ying-chao (吳英昭) and National Police Agency Director-General Shieh Ing-dan (謝銀黨) yesterday launched a new anti-gang program as the government seeks to relentlessly crack down on the nation's criminal underworld.

The announcement comes after a victory for law enforcement officials after the arrest of the notorious kidnap-for-ransom gangster Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) on Wednesday.

The initiative, called Chihping Anti-Gangster Program (治平專案), is a large-scale project that will crack down on organized crime.

"The project will take aim at five types of organized crime activity," Shih said. "These include groups which take advantage of legal businesses to cover their illegal activities; violent debt collectors; elected officials with underworld connections; politicians who ask for kickbacks or are involved illegal activities surrounding the major construction projects; and international crime rings that operate on either side of the Taiwan Strait."

According to Shih, Chang and his associates belong in the last category, but police have yet to determine who was the mastermind behind the infamous kidnap-for-ransom network.

"Our investigation showed that crime rings assign detailed tasks to each of its members. Everyone in the group is involved in a portion of a crime. As a result, it also takes more time for officers to locate and arrest all the people involved," Shih said.

Su said that even though the arrest of Chang and several of his fellow gang members was a victory for the fight against organized crime, the investigation into the nation's most-wanted criminal continues.

"In Chang's case, we have arrested 52 gang members, seized 38 assault rifles, submachine guns and pistols, 1,700 rounds of ammunition and body armor," Su said.

"But this is not good enough, so we have to come up with more relevant leads and keep fighting against the criminals," he added.

According to the interior minister, the investigation also revealed that some of Chang's accomplices have fled to China.

"No matter where they are hiding, we will do our best to bring them back to Taiwan for trial and punishment, even if they are hiding in China," Su said.

Shih also announced that Prosecutor-General Wu was assigned to lead the anti-gang initiative.

In the past, if a gang member was arrested by police during a special crackdown drive, they were taken to the prison on Green Island and usually detained indifinitely without charge or trial.

However, the Green Island Prison was decommissioned in 2002 and all its inmates were moved to prisons in Hualien and Taitung.

"In the future, whoever is arrested in an anti-gang drive will be detained in local detention jails and officers will carry out their jobs in a professional manner," Wu said.

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