Chinese police break up underground dog-fighting ring run by pensioners

Group detained on suspicion of allowing illicit gambling although dog fights are permitted under Chinese law

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 2:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2018, 11:57am

Police have busted an underground dog-fighting ring, organised by a group of retired people in southern China, a local newspaper has reported.

Over 200 police officers surrounded a fight earlier this month, and 92 people were rounded up for taking part in illegal gambling activities, after a six-month investigation, according to the Southern Legal newspaper. Police also seized 32 dogs and over 320,000 yuan (US$51,000) in cash.

The ring was set up in an agricultural district on the edge of Shantou in Guangdong province and has been in operation since last May under the pretence of an “elderly person’s clubhouse”. 

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Gambling is illegal under Chinese law although dog-fighting is permitted and the country has no specific laws against animal cruelty.

The founder of the dog-fighting ring, a 64-year-old retired man surnamed Chen, rented a plot of land in his village in Chenghai district to build a 20 square metre (215 sq ft) arena surrounded by an iron fence and concrete seating. 

The arena was reported to have staged up to three dog fights each Sunday afternoon for almost a year.

Outside, next to a poster with the rules of dog-fighting, was a “no gambling” sign, the report stated.

What started as a small-scale venture, charging an admission fee of 10-20 yuan, expanded when Chen teamed up with a group of 10 senior citizens last December. 

Admission increased to 200 yuan per ticket, or 300 for two fights, the report said. 

While Chen was in charge of covering the two referees’ costs, the others organised the admission fees and are accused of managing the betting ring.

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The bets placed on fights ranged between 500 and 5,000 yuan, totalling tens of thousands. Chen is alleged to have pocketed 60 per cent of the profits, and the group of 10 took 40 per cent. 

In October, police in Shantou began investigating a report that a group of criminals were organising gambling at dog fights. 

After visiting the site several times and using drones to build evidence, 220 officers were dispatched on April 8. Of the 92 people questioned, including the organisers, venue providers and referees, 39 were detained on suspicion of setting up “casinos”, 35 accused of breaking the law by gambling, and the rest given verbal warnings.