Pyramid-sellers held after mobbing police

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am

Scores of members of a pyramid-sales scheme have been held in Baoding , Hebei province , after more than 200 people stormed a police station and injured nine officers on Sunday.

The attack followed a police raid earlier in the day in which officers broke up a gathering of 200 non-locals engaged in pyramid-selling, the China News Service reported.

Officers took two key members back to the Xinshichang community police station for questioning.

More than 200 members of the pyramid scheme later milled around the station at about 4pm, armed with clubs, knives and bricks, and demanded the release of their colleagues.

Nine officers were injured trying to stop the mob from entering the station, the report said. Some doors and windows were damaged.

'The [pyramid scheme members] kept breaking things while running from the second floor to the first floor ... It was horrible. They even smashed police cars,' a witness was quoted as saying.

Yelling 'kill the officers', they also chased police officers, who ran out of the building.

The rampage lasted for more than 20 minutes before additional officers arrived and the mob ran off, the news agency said.

The injured officers were sent to hospital. Scores of scheme members, most of them 'very young', had been detained for assault and vandalism, while a search for others was continuing, the report said.

Pyramid-selling was outlawed on the mainland in 1998 but has not been eradicated, despite repeated crackdowns. Last year Shandong police smashed a cosmetics sales scam that involved 500,000 people in 16 provinces.

The mainland cracked 3,587 pyramid-selling cases last year and prosecuted 2,111 people, State Administration for Industry and Commerce figures show.

There have been previous reports of scheme members storming police stations and injuring officers.