The final member of a violent gang that kidnapped unsuspecting victims answering bogus job adverts in Southeast London was sentenced last week.
19-year-old Min Yang was sentenced to eight years in prison, bringing the sentencing total for the five-strong gang – who had a “lair” in Lewisham – to 52 years and two months.
The five men, including two who lived on Brockley Road, were all originally from the Fujian province in Southeast China. They posted advertisements written in Mandarin on Chinese social-networking sites, luring five victims – who were also all Chinese nationals – to false meetings before kidnapping them and demanding ransoms from relatives in China.
Detective Sergeant Tony O’Sullivan from the Metropolitan Police’s Kidnap Unit said: “This criminal network was ruthless in the way they ensnared their vulnerable victims with seemingly attractive promises of much-needed work. Once they had them captive they used serious violence and intimidation to extract whatever they could.”
After successfully extracting money from the families of two victims, a man and a woman they captured in Luton in January 2009, they went on to kidnap another man who had also answered a job advert in March last year.
The gang met him in Lewisham and brought him to a house in the area where they bound him and beat him, before holding a knife to his throat and threatening to kill him.
After a terrifying nine-hour ordeal, the victim fled to a restaurant on nearby Lewisham High Street, the bandages that were used to bind him still around his neck. Staff at the restaurant flagged down a passing police car to help him.
While officers from the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire police units – along with a team from the Met’s Kidnap Unit – launched an investigation into the kidnappings, the gang managed to capture a further two men, both of whom were taken to a house in Peckham Rye.
One of the men escaped prompting the gang to flee the scene too. The Kidnap Unit raided a house in Brockley where they arrested Guo Ping Chen, 36, and Bing Cheng, 37, on March 26 2009.
Police arrested three other men – including Min Yang – over the course of the subsequent year. All five men pleaded guilty to charges of kidnap, blackmail, conspiracy and false imprisonment. All will be subject to deportation when they complete their sentences.
Detective Chief Inspector Craig Turner of the Kidnap Unit said: “These were organised and clearly dangerous individuals who have rightly faced justice for the terror they inflicted on their own community.”