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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Chinese crime 'Godmother' jailed

Xie Caiping is led away from court in Chongqing, China (3 November 2009)
Xie was said to have earned 2m yuan from her crimes

A woman described as the "Godmother" of the criminal underworld in the Chinese city of Chongqing has been sentenced to 18 years in jail and a large fine.

The court said Xie Caiping, 46, ran gambling dens, protected drug users and bribed police to turn a blind eye.

Claims in court that she had kept 16 young lovers helped to fuel huge public interest in the trial.

Hundreds of people have been arrested in Chongqing in recent months in a sweeping crackdown on criminal gangs.

Among them was Wen Qiang, Xie's brother-in-law and the former head of the judiciary, who was arrested in August on serious corruption charges.

Xie was accused of heading a gang that ran illegal gambling dens in nightclubs and casinos, illegally locking people up, harbouring drug users and running protection rackets, while bribing police in the southern city.

She is reported to have earned more than 2 million yuan ($292,000: £179,000) from her criminal activities and was fined 1.02 million yuan in addition to her jail term.

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Another 21 people were sentenced with her, to between one and 13 years in prison.

The court said the gang had "severely broke the normal order of society", the Associated Press news agency reported.

The gang and corruption crackdown in Chongqing has been running since June and has seen the arrest of several high-profile official figures, including at least six district police chiefs.

Six people have already been sentenced to death for murder and blackmail.

Xie's brother-in-law, Mr Wen, will be prosecuted later this month on charges including rape, money laundering, bribery and illegal money lending.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Shanghai said the media have been allowed to cover the Chongqing trials in detail to highlight that no-one is above the law.

But the details emerging have revealed just how corrupt the city, our correspondent adds.



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