Loan Sharks Worked Casinos, AG Says

SACRAMENTO (CN) – Five loan sharks, headed by a Chinese mobster, were arrested on charges of felony assault, conspiracy and extortion, Attorney General Jerry Brown said Thursday. Brown said the men preyed on gamblers at Sacramento-area tribal casinos, charged as much as 5 percent interest a week, and assaulted people who were slow in paying up, “including one woman who was hospitalized for her injuries.”

     Brown said the gang targeted losers at casinos – including Red Hawk and Thunder Valley – and once the gamblers accepted the loans, the gang trapped them in a “never-ending loop of debt and fear.”
     One man’s $100,000 loan grew to $400,000 in 5 months, Brown’s office said in announcing the arrests. The gang allegedly threatened to hurt its victims’ families in China if they failed to pay the extortionate rates.
     The “leader of the enterprise” was Weixiong Kuang, 44, who is believed to belong to the violent Chinese crime syndicate known as the Big Circle Gang, Brown said.
     With “a staff of armed collectors, lenders and bodyguards,” Kuang victimized gamblers for a year and a half, Brown said.
     Kuang faces two counts of felony assault, three counts of extortion, and felony conspiracy.
     Also arrested were Jian Liu, 43; Zhi Huang, 23; Yezhi Lei, 46; and Zi Zhen, 35; all were charged with felony conspiracy.
     All were booked into the El Dorado County Jail.

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