Dubbed the "godmother" of the Chinese underworld, she was notorious for her toughness and a lavish lifestyle that reportedly included luxury villas and a stable of 16 young lovers.
Her criminal reign ended Tuesday when Xie Caiping, 46, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for running illegal casinos and bribing government officials. Her trial was one of a series of gang prosecutions in the southwestern city of Chongqing that have featured lurid testimony about sex, corruption and the violent underworld.
Xie is the only female gang boss to be tried as part of a
monthslong crackdown on local gangs, known as "black societies,"
in the sprawling southwestern megacity of 30 million. The trials
have exposed the tangled web of links between government officials
and police officers who sought to provide cover for the crime
Besides her luxury homes, Xie reportedly enjoyed her own
Mercedes-Benz and "retained 16 young men for personal
entertainment," local media reported. On Tuesday, her driver Luo
Xuan, 29, who was also her lover, was sentenced to four-and-a-half
years in jail for his role.
Wearing an inmate-assigned vest of bright orange, the
short-haired and plain-faced Xie was grim and emotionless as she
was led out of the No. 5 Intermediate People's Court after the
Xie had been protected for years because she was the
sister-in-law of the city's long-serving deputy police chief, Wen
Qiang, who was detained for investigation by the ruling Communist
Party in August. Wen, who is regarded as being at the heart of an
extensive network of protection of local gangs for over a decade,
will go on trial later in the month.
Xie once absconded with a suitcase full of money after being
tipped off by Wen before a police raid on one of her gambling dens,
according to a local newspaper. Last year, she hired gang members
to beat an undercover police officer unconscious, put him in a bag
and dump him in the countryside.
During the trial, Xie's profanity-laced testimony drew a rebuke
from the judge. Victims who had been terrorized by the gangs waited
patiently for Tuesday's sentencing.
Xie was convicted of "organizing and leading a criminal
organization, running gambling dens, illegal imprisonment,
harboring people taking illegal narcotics and giving bribes to
officials," the official Xinhua News Agency reported. She was also
fined 1.02 million yuan (about $150,000).
Chen Yanling, a Chongqing resident who says she was beaten by
thugs after refusing a corrupt policeman's request to turn her
teahouse into a casino, said she and other victims waited outside
the court for the verdict. But they were angered by Xie's
sentencing, with some people refusing to leave until police
escorted them away.
"We didn't believe our ears when we first heard it's just 18
years. How many crimes has she committed?" Chen said.
The crackdown in Chongqing has netted some 1,500 suspects -
gangsters, prominent businessmen and 14 high-ranking officials. Six
gang members in the city have already been sentenced to death for
crimes including murder and blackmail.
On Tuesday, 20 others, including officials who offered
protection to gang members, were sentenced to between one and 13
years in prison, according to a notice on the Chongqing court Web
The court notice said Xie's gang "severely broke the normal
order of society," and illegally detained others and allowed loan
sharking at the casinos. The casino took a cut of the profits won
by gamblers, the notice said. It said casino bosses hired stand-ins
to take the blame when there was a crackdown and paid bribes to
Since September 2004, it said, Xie's gang had made 2 million
yuan ($293,000) in illegal earnings by running more than 10
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