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Mainland Crime Ring Linking to Macao Gang on Trial
Alleged members of a crime ring operating in Macao and the Chinese mainland appeared for the first time in Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People's Court Tuesday on 11 criminal charges.

A total of 23 defendants are accused of crimes ranging from property damage, robbery, illicit possession of firearms and ammunition, trade in guns and explosives, and kidnapping to bigamy and threatening public safety.

Mai Guoqing, 33, from the Shunde District in Foshan and Li Deliang, 30, from Guangzhou are the principals in the case. Both have served prison terms for robbery in the past.

After being released from prison, Li made a living mainly in the food and entertainment industry, forcing shop owners in the area to pay him and his gang in the name of "protection fee," according to the court.

Mai and fellow defendant Lin Changhua were also involved in illegal gambling in Macao, often persuading punters to make a bet and then rigging the game, the court said.

They collected large sums of money by loaning money to the losers at high interest rates.

Court investigations over the past four months allege that the gang raked in more than 7 million yuan (US$843,000) through its illegal activities.

According to the court, both Mai and Lin are members of a Macao-based gang called 14k, led by two brothers Chen Zhixiong and Chen Bosheng in Macao.

The gang threatened, posted notices and splashed paint on the homes and workplaces of their debtors if they fell behind in their repayments, the court found.

A 45-year-old plaintiff surnamed Zhu was allegedly shot by a member of Chen Bosheng's gang after arguing on behalf of a relative who owed them HK$2.6 million (US$313,000). Zhu lodged complaints against Mai and three other suspects over the injuries.

"Due to the complexity of the case, public hearings will last till Friday," a spokesman with the court said.

Verdicts are expected to be passed on the 23 suspects next month, court sources said.

(China Daily April 9, 2003)

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