Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 5 News List

China sentences five to death in gang case

AFP , BEIJING

Five people were sentenced to death yesterday in southwestern China for drug trafficking, extortion and other crimes, a court reported, as the government continues to crackdown on organized crime.

Four were given the death penalty while another was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, a sentence typically commuted to life in jail, the court in Kunming said on its Web site.

The four included Jiang Jiatian, leader of a 41-strong criminal gang, his mistress and her father, plus another core member, Xinhua news agency said.

Li Wencai, a woman who played a key role in the gang’s drug trafficking activities, was given the single reprieve.

Jiang, 56, made a fortune from drug trafficking in the mid 1990s and invested his money in at least 10 teahouses, Internet cafes and hotels in Kunming, a court spokesman was quoted as saying in the report.

Many of his businesses were fronts for prostitution, extortion, racketeering, drug trafficking and the sale of counterfeit bank notes, it said.

The gang terrorized at least three villages in the suburbs of Kunming. Some residents said they had been forced to pay up to US$146 for a pot of tea at Jiang’s teahouses, under threat of violence.

Other customers complained they were given fake bank notes as change and that they were beaten up when they protested.

The other 36 members of the gang received jail terms ranging from 18 months to life in jail. The trial began in late September.

It comes amid a huge crackdown on organized crime in southwestern China’s Chongqing region that has so far seen six people sentenced to death and scores of others jailed for up to life in prison.

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