A senior judicial figure in Chongqing is being investigated over allegations he colluded with organized criminal gangs.
Police are looking into the dealings of Wen Qiang, 55, director of the municipality's judicial bureau since last July, after claims he has helped cover up offenses and usurious loans.
He is also believed to have links with Li Qiang, former chairman of the Chongqing Yuqiang Group and deputy to the local people's congress, who was detained on July 21 over allegations of ensuring unfair competition through the use of mafia-like gangs.
A Chongqing judicial official who refused to be named said it was only a matter of time before Wen, who also served for 11 years as deputy director of the local police force, would be investigated, reported Caijing magazine.
Between January and July this year, official data showed police in the municipality have dealt with more than 300 gang-related crimes involving 370 suspects, and were keeping a close watch on 104 organized criminals.
At least three billionaires have been arrested over alleged links to gangs.
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) said organized crime remained active in China despite the economic slowdown, with the nation's courts hearing 1,265 gang-related cases involving 14,107 suspects - 3,089 of whom received sentences of more than five years in prison - from January 2006 to June this year.
SPC Vice President Zhang Jun said that the authority was also targeting corrupt government officials who shelter gangs.
However, some experts have said the crackdown is not enough and suggested a total shake-up of how officials are policed was the only solution to corruption.
"The government's improper management provides the necessary ground for gangsters to grow," added Mao Shoulong, director of institutional analysis and public policy at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.
(China Daily August 10, 2009)