Friday, May 24, 2019

Gangster Pork Monopolies in China

Gangster monopolies of local pork markets are common money-makers for China's criminal syndicates in third- and fourth-tier cities, according to news media coverage of the Chinese government's crackdown on "evil black societies" or triads this month.

In Jiangxi Province's Ganzhou City, "meat lords" force pork traders to take their hogs to "designated slaughterhouses" under that gang's control, where they collect arbitrary fees. Thugs equipped with steel pipes and machetes act as an "underground enforcement team" to punish anyone who failed to use the monopolized facility.

In Hubei Province's E'zhou City, authorities say a letter from an angry meat trader alerted them to a "meat tyrant's" monopolization of the city's pork market via control of a slaughterhouse where traders were charged 185 yuan to dispose of animal waste plus a fee for slaughtering without issuing any receipts or explanation of the fees. The two heads of the gang reportedly earned 10,000 yuan per day from the 200 hogs slaughtered daily. Authorities claim a list of traders and contact numbers persuaded them of the letter's authenticity and launched a crackdown based on accusations in the letter.
Gangsters accused of monopolizing pork market in Hubei Province, Weining City, October 2018

In neighboring Guangdong Province, authorities announced uncovering numerous "village tyrants" who are accused of monopolizing pork and vegetable markets, engaging in illegal mining, forced trading, extortion, running casinos, illegal detentions, and "seeking trouble." Gangs based on family or clan ties manipulate elections for village chief and secretary of the communist party branch to gain control of village land which they use illegally. In one village, a gang monopolized markets for pork, pig feed, noodles, beer and other commodities. The price of pork reportedly went down 1 yuan per 500g after the gang was broken up.

Gangs also reportedly controlled the pork market in Rizhao, a port city in Shandong Province. About 60 pork vendors were forced to sell in one of four markets controlled by the gang. If they tried to sell elsewhere, they would be beaten and have their meat seized. One shopper said he took a 20-minute bus ride each day to a neighboring town's market every day to buy cheaper pork. The pork price in Rizhao reportedly fell by a third after the gang's monopoly was broken.

In Leting county in Hebei Province, Mr. Yu said three men claiming to represent the local market regulatory bureau barged into his shop demanding to know why he didn't sell pork from a particular slaughterhouse. He said he was beaten after explaining that he didn't buy the company's meat due to its high price. A county official said underground "enforcement teams" beat truck drivers, destroy trucks carrying meat from other regions, block the warehouse gates of competitors, and beat pig farmers in their fields.

These are quite similar to reports of gangster pork monopoly crackdowns compiled on this blog eight years ago. This month's articles use similar key words ("meat tyrants," "enforcement teams"), report on reductions of pork prices after crackdowns, and claim the public is "applauding." A common component of this month's reports is accusations that local authorities provide an "umbrella of protection" for gangsters.

There have been reports of crackdowns and arrests of gangsters in Ganzhou over the last few years. A 9-year-old social media post insisted that news media would never report the full story. Claiming to be a pork trader himself, the writer said,

"I was threatened [for bringing pork from elsewhere], but I'm not afraid of these people. Wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying a mace, I'm as vicious as these [tough guys]. We can die together." 

One commenter accused the original poster of himself being a "black society member." Another commented, "Society is getting darker and darker. Why don't police take care of this?"

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