BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui has handed out sentences of up to 20 years in jail for 67 people involved in a mafia-style gang that engaged in gambling, extortion and violence, state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday.
The leader of the gang, 37-year-old Xing Zhaogang, was released from jail in 2012 after serving time for violent assault, but then returned to a life of crime and became a “gambling lord” in Anhui, Xinhua said, citing the court.
Between October 2014 and April 2015, Xing’s gang made 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) in profits from their underground gambling operation, and beat up and threatened those seen as rivals, the report added.
Gambling is illegal in mainland China.
But he and his gang were caught and put on trial in November, Xinhua said.
The court found Xing guilty of organising a mafia-style gang, including using violence against his rivals, and gave him a 20-year jail sentence, the report said.
The other 66 members of his gang got sentences ranging from five months to 14 years in jail, it said, without giving other details or saying when the court had reached its verdict.
It was not possible to reach legal representatives for Xing or the other convicted people for comment.
Such organised crime is rare in China. In 2015, a former mining tycoon was executed after being found guilty of leading a 36-member gang on a crime spree spanning two decades.
($1 = 6.9430 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Powell