BEIJING, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Chinese police, in a nationwide crackdown on triad gangs, have smashed about 300 of the criminal organizations and arrested 2,200 people, authorities said.
The crackdown, which began this month, comes as rooting out triad gangs has become the top priority of the government and police, the Ministry of Public Security said, China Daily reported Friday.
The latest operation, targeting leaders and key members of the gangs, was carried out in 11 provinces, ministry deputy director Liao Jinrong told China Daily.
Liao said triad gangs "threaten social stability and are detested by the public."
One of these arrested was Guo Biwu, head of a triad gang that controlled the Mawangdui vegetable wholesale market in Changsha, capital of Hunan province. The market is one of the nation's largest, with 6,700 tons of produce sold daily. Guo's gang was accused of manipulating prices and threatening and injuring storeowners who challenged them.
Police also smashed gangs involved in gambling, extortion and intimidation in some of the provinces.
Liao said police were focusing on specific high-profit sectors, including mining, entertainment, logistics and construction.
He conceded the fight against gang crime is an uphill battle as some triads have prospered under the protective "umbrellas" of law enforcement officers and state employees in key areas such as tax, industry and commerce.
"There is no denying that some police officers are in collusion with gangs," Professor Dai Peng at the Chinese People's Public Security University told China Daily.
Chinese laws are severe in punishing triad-related criminals, calling for the death penalty for those involved in killing or inflicting serious injuries on victims.