A court in southern China has sentenced 36 people to prison terms of up to 25 years for gang crimes including homicide, assault and setting up illegal casinos, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Hainan gang leader Huang Tuwang was sentenced to 25 years for gang activity dating back to 2005, while other members were sentenced to terms between 12 months and 23 years for a range of crimes, Xinhua said.

Chinese courts have sentenced several large mafia-style criminal gangs this year, often for offences involving gambling which is illegal in China.

Huang Tuwang oversaw a range of illegal businesses including massage parlors, unlicensed lending outfits and casinos, forming ‘unlawful control’ over certain regions and industries, said the report.

The gang, which went by the name ‘Moon Help’, was made up of more than 40 members and frequently recruited students and school drop outs, it said.

Last month 27 gang members were jailed for up to 25 years for assault, robbery and extortion in northwest Shaanxi province. In January a court in Anhui province sentenced 67 people in a similar case for offences including gambling and extortion.

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