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Kunming gang leaders sentenced to death

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Death sentences were handed out today to five members of a Kunming-based gang accused of involvement in drug trafficking, fraud, racketeering, extortion, prostitution and selling counterfeit money, according to a Xinhua report.

The head of the gang, Jiang Jiatian, 56 was sentenced to death along with his mistress Yang Jufen, her father Yang Guoying, and Xie Mingxiang, a fourth member of the 41-member gang's core. Most of the gang members were relatives or friends of Jiang.

The four convicted gang leaders were sentenced in the Intermediate Court of Kunming, with Li Wencai, a fifth gang member, receiving a death sentence with two-year reprieve. The remaining members of the gang were dealt sentences ranging from 18 months to life in prison.

According to a spokesman for the court, Jiang made his initial money in the 1990s trafficking drugs, later investing his ill-gotten gains in hotels, teahouses and internet cafes around Kunming.

The gang reportedly came under police scrutiny after residents of more than three villages around Kunming complained about feeling unsafe. Some of the complaints included being threatened with violence until agreeing to pay 1,000 yuan (US$146) for a pot of tea, or being beaten up after objecting to receiving fake bills as change.

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