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Gambling Godmother Captured

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Oct/15/2009

SHANGHAI - The Chongqing Mafia cleanup that has been grabbing headlines across China for nearly five months got a whole lot more exciting this week when the only woman alleged to be a gang boss appeared in No. 5 Intermediary People's Court.

Dressed in a blue prison boiler suit and orange vest, Xie Caiping, 46, didn't look the part of a Mafia godmother and she certainly didn't look like the powerful cougar with a string of handsome boy toys that the Chinese media is painting her to be.

"She paid for 16 handsome young men," the Southern Metropolis News exclaimed.

And, local Chongqing media reported that Xie "retained 16 young men for personal entertainment."

In court, Xie has admitted to only one dalliance, however, with her 26-year-old chauffeur who the Chongqing Evening News said she fell for "at first sight."

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."

The court heard that Wen, who was arrested last month, helped Xie avoid arrest several times, most notably in 2000 when he managed to tip her off just 10 minutes before her casino was raided.

Chinese are used to reading about corrupt officials involved in extramarital affairs, but they are invariably men. Xie's supposed exploits - and appetites - are so foreign to them that many dismissed them out of hand.

The Yangtze Evening Post cited an anonymous civil servant who claimed the accounts of Xie's young men were impossible to believe. "How can Wen tolerate his younger brother being a cuckold while providing protection to Xie's casinos?"

Xie is standing trial alongside 21 members of her alleged "gang." It is one of four Mafia trials running simultaneously in Chongqing this week. At the No. 3 Intermediate People's Court, 19 alleged gang members are facing counts of murder and extortion. At No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, another group of nine is on trial for similar crimes.

And, across the sprawling city in Kaixian County People's Court, the 28-strong "Mickey Mouse Gang" that specialized in arson, assault, robbery and extortion, is in the hot seat.

Chongqing, in southwestern China, is an industrial city of more than 30 million. While it has the Yangtze River, it lacks the historic interest of Beijing and the style of Shanghai, so local Communist party strongman Bo Xilai is trying to put it on the map as the "Gateway to China's West."

Part of his plan to lure ever more business and manufacturing interests to finally rid the city of the corruption that has permeated almost every level of local society.

Bo's first move was to lure Wang Lijun to Chongqing. He's an Eliot Ness-style Mafia fighter who at one point had a contract out on him for nearly $800,000. In northern Liaoning province, where Wang earned his spurs, they called the incorruptible policeman the "anti-Mafia hero." It took a year, but when Wang started making arrests this summer, it was evident to all that Bo had chosen him wisely.

Since June, 2,000 people have been detained on gang-related charges in Chongqing. They include Deputy Chief Wen, plus a half-dozen district police chiefs, 50 government officials, two senior judges, three billionaire businessmen and more than 20 gang bosses.

Gangs or Mafia are a major problem in many Chinese cities. They are predominately local organizations involved in human trafficking, counterfeit goods, gambling and extortion and they thrive with the help and protection of corrupt local officials.

Since 2006, police say they have disbanded more than 1,200 gangs across China and arrested 87,300 people.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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