plotters killed migrant miners—staging each man’s death as a mining accident—then posed as grieving family members. Corrupt mine bosses in turn paid these impostor “families” hush money, rather than risk any investigation into working conditions. The scam was grisly but profitable—each death could net as much as $120,000, an unimaginable sum in a country where the average rural family’s annual income is $1,800. The new concrete houses that line the mud-brick village’s main street are a testament to the windfall.
Remote and difficult to access, many villages in China’s interior have developed a criminal cottage industry