Firearms sold on cyberspace

Over 1,000 guns and 10,000 bullets were confiscated and 241 people arrested for running an illegal, cyberspace firearms business in Jiangxi Province, reported the Beijing-based Legal Daily.

The investigation by the Pingxiang Public Security Bureau, which lasted a year, found the suspects had sold guns to over 700 clients in more than 200 cities and counties in 30 municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions across the country.

Police tracked the gun buyers and confiscated their weapons, along with 200 firearms that were found when the sellers were busted. Police said they also confiscated 55,000 firearm parts.

“The stealthy cyber crime was very difficult to investigate,” Yang Fukuan, head of the crime investigation team at the Jiangxi Provincial Public Security Department, was quoted by the Legal Daily as saying Tuesday.

“A huge organized criminal gang and an extensive network of buyers are involved in the case,” Yang added.

Guns are strictly controlled in China and private gun ownership is outlawed.

“The illegal gun trade used to be limited to a small and secretive group, cyberspace now provides a hotbed for trade in weapons,” Liu Tao, professor from the Chinese People’s Public Security University, told the Global Times.

“An increasing demand for guns also plays an important role,” Liu added.

He Li, deputy director of the firearms control department at the Ministry of Public Security, said criminal gangs, ethnic minorities who hunt, bodyguards and drug dealers are the main clients of illegal gun sellers, the Beijing News reported.

“The crackdown on online gun sales is positive as authorities have become familiar with the new methods of the illegal firearms trade,” Lü Benfu, an expert on Internet security with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times.

The Ministry of Public Security launched a campaign on September 25 with 29 provincial police departments to contain the sale of firearm online.

More than 530 suspects have been arrested in the campaign, and over 1,000 guns and 10,000 bullets confiscated during this crackdown.

In June, local police in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, arrested 1,700 suspects who sold about 2,000 guns online to 32 regions in the country.

However, experts advised that more work needs to be done to fight cyber crime.

“The current Criminal Law defines cyber crime only vaguely and leaves loopholes in handing out harsh punishment,” Liu said, adding that more detailed regulations are needed.

Lü said that China needs to improve its ability to detect cyber crime by learning from successful experiences in foreign countries.

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