Organized crime cannot exist without public corruption, and in Chongqing, China authorities executed Wen Qiang who "used his position as deputy police commissioner and then as director of the justice bureau to shield a network of gangsters" as reported by Malcolm Moore for The Telegraph. Over the past year "Chongqing mobster trials have grabbed national headlines with lurid revelations about sex, guns, drugs and cash, all traded in an atmosphere where the underworld blended with officialdom" as reported by James T. Areddy for The Wall Street Journal: "Thousands were arrested and least 90 officials have so far been prosecuted, with death sentences or life terms handed down in 65 cases. Among the prominent trials were those of a top judge, a defense lawyer and Mr. Wen's brothel-owning sister-in-law, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison."
In China high-profile organized crime trials continue against reputed gangsters and the officials who allegedly enable them, and this week Wen Qiang, the former police and justice chief from Chongqing which is the country's largest city, is in the crosshairs as reported by Eric Baculinao for NBC News:
Wen Qiang, Chongqing's former police and justice chief, is the most senior official to be charged in the corruption probe. He is accused of taking more than $2.4 million in bribes to protect criminal gangs, a large chunk of which was recovered in cash buried in a fish pond. He also owned eight luxury villas across the city. His wife, Zhou Xiaoya, is also on trial for abusing her position as the spouse of a government official to gain more than $1 million. * * * Earlier in the anti-corruption campaign, his sister-in-law Xie Caiping, dubbed the "godmother of Chongqing's underworld," was sentenced to 18 years for running gambling dens and drug trafficking. A former tax bureau official, Xie brazenly ran a casino and brothel just opposite Chongqing's People's Court.
A series of criminal trials in Chongqing, one of China's biggest cities, is spotlighting a byproduct of the country's rapid social and economic change: the spread of organized crime. The court in Chongqing, a city of more than 30 million people, is expected to reach verdicts in coming weeks on the charges against two prominent defendants. Wen Qiang, the former head of Chongqing's municipal justice department, is charged with using his official position to provide protection to organized-crime gangs. Li Qiang, a billionaire businessman who was until recently a member of the local legislature, faces nine charges, including organizing and leading criminal gangs, bribery and tax evasion. Officials say the two men ran an underworld empire that included prostitution rings, illegal casinos, bribery and murder.
Since 2006 "police have broken up nearly 13,000 gangs and detained 870,000 suspects," and "some 89,000 of those had been formally arrested as of September."
So far, 4,893 suspected gangsters have been taken into custody, many of them city officials, including a former deputy police commissioner and the head of the city's justice bureau, Wen Qiang. Mr Wen, who is suspected of accumulating a fortune of over 100 million yuan (£10 million) in bribes, is said to have been the overall godfather of the city, a protective umbrella who shielded the gangs from the authorities. The operation revealed the depths of corruption inside Chongqing's monumental police headquarters, with some Chinese reports suggesting that one-fifth of the city's police has been removed. Officers have told of sudden morning meetings at which their colleagues were dramatically purged and led away in handcuffs.
Xie is accused of leading a gang of 20 mobsters and ex-convicts, running 20 illegal casinos, bribery and detaining people against their will. Allegedly, her brother-in-law, Wen Qiang, until recently Chongqing's deputy chief of police, provided Xie with the protection she needed to profitably operate her casinos and other rackets without official hassle. The China Youth Daily said: "Habitual gamblers believed casinos operated by Xie were the safest casinos in town because no police dared seize a gambling venue under the protection of Chongqing's justice bureau chief."
Last summer China arrested several hundred mobsters from 14 crime groups in Chongqing, and the first two trials resulting from the roundup have begun which involve thirty-one defendants as reported by BBC News:
China's state-run news agency Xinhua said nine people were on trial at the city's First Intermediate People's Court. The group, led by Yang Tianqing, faced charges spanning eight years, a court official said. A further 22 people were on trial at the Third Intermediate People's Court, the agency said. Led by Liu Zhingyong, they are accused of offences including murder, assault and operating illegal coal mines.
The most notable arrest so far is of a senior policeman and judicial authority, Wen Qiang, deputy director of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau and director of the municipal Judicial Bureau. His brother's wife also was detained, on charges she held senior roles in local crime organizations while Mr. Wen was helping to run the police. His trial will be held outside Chongqing and hers starts Wednesday in the city.