China punishes 3,000 people in organized crime crackdown: state media

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has punished 3,021 people in a crackdown on organized crime and the local “protective umbrellas” that allow it to operate, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday, citing a government anti-crime task force.

China ordered 10 regions to take action against organized crime following a three-month inspection campaign last year. These included northern heavy industrial provinces such as Shanxi and Liaoning, as well as the major manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong near Hong Kong.

The 10 regions busted 1,129 mafia-style groups and seized 4.94 billion yuan ($737.8 million) in assets during a subsequent “rectification” campaign that ended in December, Xinhua said.

The campaign focused on strengthening grass-roots governance and law enforcement to smash what China calls “protective umbrellas”, in which governments or police bureaus turn a blind eye or connive in crime.

Xinhua said Henan province in central China took action against criminal gangs running illegal taxi and trucking services, while Shandong on the east coast cracked down on “village bosses” running rural mafia groups.

Fujian province in the southeast focused on the investment of illegal earnings in property, it said.

China launched a three-year nationwide campaign against organized crime early last year focusing on activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution and fraud.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait