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Members of deadly extortion ring sentenced to life in prison

07/10/2024 09:09 PM
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Tu Cheng-che, leader of an extortion ring, is apprehended by the police on April 11, 2023. File photo courtesy of New Taipei City Police Department
Tu Cheng-che, leader of an extortion ring, is apprehended by the police on April 11, 2023. File photo courtesy of New Taipei City Police Department

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Four members of an extortion ring that carried out a series of deadly unlawful confinement in northern Taiwan were sentenced to life in prison by the Shilin District Court Wednesday.

The sentences given to Tu Cheng-che (杜承哲), the group's ringleader, Hsueh Lung-ting (薛隆廷), Hung Chun-chieh (洪俊杰) and Wang Yu-chieh (王昱傑) can be appealed.

Tu was convicted on 329 charges, including unlawful confinement resulting in death, fraud, forced drug abuse, initiating a crime organization and improper disposal of a body, the court said in a statement.

Hsueh, Hung and Wang were found guilty on 327 criminal counts, including unlawfulconfinement resulting in death, fraud, and forced drug abuse.

Instructed by Tu, members of the ring began luring victims in September 2022 to rented residences in Taoyuan's Zhongli and New Taipei's Tamsui districts on the pretense of holding interviews for high-paying jobs, prosecutors said.

Other victims, meanwhile, were tricked by online offers to "rent out" their inactive bank accounts for large sums of money.

In both cases, those who responded to the ads were taken and held against their will by the perpetrators, who took their bank passbooks, account passwords, and IDs, in the two locations for periods ranging from less than a week to more than a month.

Police who busted the case last November found 35 people being held in an apartment in Taoyuan and another 26 in Tamsui.

Prosecutors found that the victims were forced to take sleeping pills and drugs to keep them in a state of lethargy, and were beaten, tasered, or pepper-sprayed during their captivity, leading to the deaths of three captives.

(Bu Hsieh Hsing-en and Bernadette Hsiao) Enditem/ASG

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