Song Liugen is accused of running an empire based on violence and fear Members of a gang accused of having run the underworld in Zhengzhou for more than a decade have gone on trial in Xuchang . Song Liugen and 61 alleged accomplices were standing trial at Xuchang Intermediate People's Court on charges including murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking and extortion, state media reported yesterday. The Song gang - described by mainland media as the 'No1 black gang in central China' - was allegedly responsible for more than 200 crimes in Henan province , according to a report by the China News Service. The report said Song, 45, was charged with eight crimes. His right-hand man, Ma Xianzhou , faced six charges. The trial, involving 76 defence lawyers, is expected to take two weeks. China News Service said large crowds gathered outside the courthouse hoping to witness the trial. It said most suspected gang members were ex-convicts. During the arrests, police seized many firearms, 2,400 rounds of ammunition and 61 cars. Prosecutors believed the gang was responsible for at least 15 murders. Prosecutors told the court Song made his fortune by monopolising the city's rail freight business. He drove out competitors, and businessmen who refused to submit were often beaten. Some were murdered. He allegedly recruited thugs and organised them into a criminal gang that ran a wide range of illegal businesses in Zhengzhou. While the official reports did not directly mention any official corruption, a mainland newspaper questioned how Song and his gang could have openly defied the law for almost a decade. 'These people were responsible for over 200 crimes in the past 10 years,' the Nanjing-based Jiangnan Times said. 'They killed people, injured 200 innocent citizens and forced tens of legitimate companies out of business. Why did the police never take any action against them?' A lawyer in Zhengzhou said the case was transferred to the nearby city of Xuchang because Song's influence in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, was too great. 'Nobody knows how well connected he was and how many officials took bribes from him. But Song ran his business in classic mafia style for a decade and no one in the government dared to touch him,' the lawyer said. 'So it is better for the trial to be conducted somewhere else, even though, by the book, the trial should be handled by Zhengzhou Intermediate People's Court.' Earlier media reports said officers from other cities were recruited to carry out the investigations because local police and officials were on Song's payroll. But Song still received a last minute tip-off and escaped the initial police raid. He was later arrested in Hubei province .