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This is Story in the Story.
A growing number of cases involving "protective umbrellas," corrupt officials who shield mafia-style criminal gangs, have emerged nationwide.
The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council released a document last January to begin a three-year campaign against domestic criminal organizations.
By the end of last year, 1,082 gangs had been eliminated and 1,620 guns had been confiscated. Between January and November, China saw a decline of 27.6 percent in gun-related crimes from the previous year, according to coordinators of the campaign.
As gangs and organized crimes are often deeply interwoven with corruption, the campaign targets local officials who offer protection to the criminals.
Today's Story in the Story looks at China's domestic efforts in the fight against corruption as crooked officials, often referred to as "protective umbrellas," are brought to justice.
Photo of former Party Secretary of Shaanxi Zhao Zhengyong, taken in 2015. (Photo: VCG)
The Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Shaanxi Provincial Committee recently announced it would investigate former Party Secretary of Shaanxi Zhao Zhengyong.
Zhao is under investigation for violating Party discipline and the law, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced on its website.
Zhao is the first provincial-level official to fall from grace in 2019.
Born in 1951, Zhao started his civil servant career in East China's Anhui Province and began working in Shaanxi in 2001. Zhao served as the secretary of the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee from 2012 to 2016 and retired in March 2018.
Shaanxi has become an epicenter for domestic corruption crackdowns and has witnessed the fall of at least eight senior officials, including a deputy provincial Party chief, a deputy governor, and a deputy of the provincial legislature.
Wei Minzhou, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the Shaanxi People's Congress, was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2018 for taking bribes worth almost $16 million dollars. Wei served as a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and Secretary of Xi'an Municipal Party Committee from 2012 to 2016.
In Changsha, Hunan Province, the leader of a criminal gang was sentenced to life in prison for leading a mafia-style gang.
The leader, Wen Liehong, had accumulated huge wealth since 2002, when he set up casinos at major hotels in Changsha. He organized others to participate in gambling and loaned money with high interest rates.
From 2005 to 2009, Wen hired debt collectors who often resorted to violence when borrowers were unable to pay their debts. In 2010, Wen set up a pawnshop where he loaned money at high interest rates. The gang often recruited unemployed men.
The gang was successful due to its clear hierarchy: one leader, three members, five active participants and 16 other members. When police cracked the organization, they seized cash and property valued at $178 million.
In December 2014, when Changsha police started investigating Wen, he sought help from Zhou Fubo. The two became friends and Zhou gambled regularly in Wen's casinos.
In 2015, Zhou ordered the Changsha police to suspend the investigation and coordinated with Wen and the whistleblower. The police subsequently withdrew the case. Zhou was placed under investigation by Hunan's discipline inspection authorities in March 2017.
Ran Saiguang, a law professor at National Police University for Criminal Justice, said many gangs have set up companies to conduct illegal activities while concealing their true nature. They typically bribe grassroots officials to get protection.
"Only by eliminating the corrupt officials who provide shelter for gangsters can the public achieve true happiness and security," Ran said.
(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe, and Chelle Wenqian Zeng. Music by: Bensound.com. Text from China Daily and Global Times.)