09/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chinese Gang Crackdown Sees Nearly 500 Suspects Flee

Almost 500 Chinese suspects are on the run following a major crackdown on gang crime in western China, the People's Daily reports.

About 3,000 police have been involved in the investigations and arrests since the operation began two months ago.

The People's Daily reports that over 1,540 people have been detained on suspicion of gang activity, while $224m worth of assets have been frozen or confiscated.

Among those arrested so far in the strings are a senior police chief, three multi-millionaires and 19 triad gang leaders, reports The Times.

The arrests were made in the western Chinese city of Chongqing and the police chief's arrest has been seen as highly important in removing a protector of the gangs who operate in the city.

The triad gangs have allegedly been involved in illegal casinos, money-lending and extortion, and had been operating with increasing openness around the city.

The BBC cites one official as saying loans could account for up to one third of the city's revenue.

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