Chinese police crack major Internet-enabled gun sales case

08:32, December 24, 2010      

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Chinese police have cracked a serious case of Internet-enabled gun selling and said they are monitoring the new crime method.h The Ministry of Public Security revealed Thursday that police began their investigation of the case in May.

They said the owner of the Internet gun shop, Zhou Zhaoping, and four other suspects were arrested on June 8 in Wuxi City in east China's Jiangsu Province.

Zhou, a 31-year-old man from Yixing City, Jiangsu, had produced and sold shotguns, accessories and ammunition since 2008.

To disguise his activities, Zhou used coded language on the Internet to sell the guns, calling gun barrels "plastic pipes," for example.

When police arrested Zhou, some 57 shotguns and a large quantity of gun accessories and ammunition had already been sold to people in 30 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

Yan Zhengbin, deputy director of the ministry's public security bureau, told a press conference in Beijing that during the five months of the investigation, another 366 cases of illegal production, sale and possession of firearms and ammunition were cracked.

A total of 590 guns were seized and 548 suspects arrested, Yan said.

Police said they found 2,177 online leads they suspected related to firearms cases. Some 60 percent of leads led to the busting of criminal activity.

"This shows the seriousness of the illegal gun business on the Internet," Yan said.

The ministry launched a nationwide campaign in March to crack down on explosives, guns and ammunition.

Chinese law prohibits civilians from possessing guns, ammunition, explosives and certain types of knives.

Minor violations can lead to jail sentences of three to 10 years. Major violations can lead to the death penalty.

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