The sweep began in June, when officers began to raid the city’s illegal gun factories, seizing over 1,700 firearms. As their leads multiplied, however, the police widened their search. An operation that began with 3,000 policemen is now being conducted by 25,000 officers, as the city tries to rid itself of an insidious mafia network that stretches to the very highest levels of the Communist party.
So far, 4,893 suspected gangsters have been taken into custody, many of them city officials, including a former deputy police commissioner and the head of the city’s Justice bureau, Wen Qiang. Mr Wen, who is suspected of having accumulated a fortune of over 100 million yuan (£10 million) in bribes, is said to have been the overall godfather of the city, a protective umbrella who shielded the gangs from the authorities.
The operation revealed the depths of corruption inside Chongqing’s monumental police headquarters, with some Chinese reports suggesting that one-fifth of the city’s police has been removed. Officers have revealed sudden morning meetings at which their colleagues were dramatically purged and led away in handcuffs.
Meanwhile, a small core of investigators have been taken “to a secret location” and “have all signed confidentiality agreements” so that no one knows where they will strike next, according to Chen Xiaohua, a Chongqing lawyer. Every policeman in the city has been reassigned a new beat to break up any patronage they may have enjoyed in their old patches.
Read more about the investigation and corruption in Chongqing via CDT.