Two mob bosses _ nicknamed the "Hammerhead" and "Spicy Qin" _ have been sentenced to death for murder and illegally running a business empire involving underground casinos, cement factories and poultry markets in southern China, a court official and local media said Friday.
The long-awaited verdict, which was 60,000 pages long, is the latest development in a sweeping crackdown on organized crime in China. High-profile trials in other parts of the country have exposed powerful criminal networks, often involving collusion between gangsters and officials.
In the latest sentencing Thursday in the city of Yangjiang, Xu Jianqiang, the "Hammerhead," was sentenced to death and fined 310 million yuan ($45.4 million), said a court official who would only give her surname, Mo. His convictions included abetting three murders.
Xu's partner, Lin Guoqin, or "Spicy Qin," was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and a 325 million yuan ($47.6 million) fine, the court official said. His life will be spared if his behavior is good during the two years.
As the verdict was read, Xu smiled and Lin bowed his head with a blank face, reported the Southern Metropolis Daily, one of the region's most popular newspapers. Their trial started June 16.
Local media reports have described the suave Lin as the brains of the gang, while Xu _ a burly, bulldog of a man _ provided the muscle. They built a chain of underground gambling dens and used force and intimidation to expand into the poultry, cement and trucking industries in Yangjiang, known as China's "knife and scissors capital" because of its large cutlery industry.
The court also sentenced 41 other members of the gang on Thursday, including three who were given death sentences, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. The remaining 38 were sentenced to 15 months to life in prison.
The group's long list of convictions included running casinos, tax evasion, issuing false invoices, extortion and operating illegal businesses, Xinhua said.
The trial ended shortly after another high-profile court case began in the western city of Chongqing. The defendants are accused of leading four gangs with dozens of members charged with murder, illegal gun possession, racketeering and money laundering.
Last month after a separate trial in Chongqing, a mob boss was executed after being found guilty of running a gang involved in drug dealing, illegal casinos and protection rackets.
Up to 2,900 suspects, including 14 high-ranking government and police officials, have been detained in the Chongqing crackdown, details of which remain somewhat sketchy.