Liu Han and his accomplices spent their illegal gains on firearms, knives and vehicles to help offenders escape, hide out and to cheat the law. He awarded bonuses to the lieutenants who did his evil bidding, gave them houses, money and drugs. He bought political capital and built a "protective umbrella" through bribery.
It is not hard to see how the brothers survived successive inquiries during their ten years of lawlessness. Every failed investigation shored up their influence and power until the two were a formidable force in local political, commercial and judicial circles.
Alongside the Liu brothers in the dock are three former local political and legal officials: Liu Xuejun, former political commissar of the Deyang public security bureau's criminal police contingent, Lyu Bin, director of Deyang public security bureau's equipment and finance department, and Liu Zhongwei, deputy chief prosecutor of the people's procuratorate in Shifang City.
According to Liu Wei, aside from financial favors, he would also accommodate the trio at his own club where the four would do drugs and party together. In return, Liu Xuejun buried case files and Liu Han helped him be promoted however he could. Liu Xuejun also ran interference after homicides, while Liu Zhongwei and Lyu Bin provided firearms and ammunition.
The Liu brothers forged a sophisticated network of crooked officials through bribery, helping with promotions and providing drugs. Investigations were interrupted, evidence was destroyed and absurdly light penalties were dished out.
For example, in May 2003, Sun Huajun, a member of Liu Han's circle, was arrested by the police in illegal possession of firearms. He was prosecuted, but quickly reprieved, only 15 days after his arrest.
Civilians in China are banned from possessing guns, ammunition, explosives and certain types of knives. Minor violations lead to jail sentences of three to 10 years. Major violations can lead to the death penalty.
Liu Han is widely connected to government officials in his search for an ever more powerful "umbrella", sometimes meant taking advantage of the contacts between his wife and spouses of those officials.
"Liu Han is extremely generous in his dealings with government officials. He is willing to pay, and he knows how to cater to their likes," said right-hand man Sun.
"Liu Han would take me to dine with them, and offer them gifts such as gold or jade items worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of yuan," said Liu's ex-wife Yang Xue. "Sometimes he would deliberately lose when gambling, just to bribe them."
Yang Xue is also being prosecuted in a separate case.
As a result of Liu Han's growing economic prowess, his connections expanded from Guanghan and Deyang to Mianyang, Chengdu and even Beijing, according to Yang and other core members of the gang.
He gained access to officials at even higher levels when he was elected to the standing committee of the Sichuan provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and spent an enormous amount trying to corrupt them.
Under this "umbrella", Liu Han's organization accessed greater economic interests, and Liu himself obtained a variety of political positions.
He was a member of the Sichuan provincial committee of the CPPCC for three consecutive terms. Right-hand man Sun was a deputy to the Sichuan provincial People's Congress. Liu Wei, a thug in Guanghan, became an Olympic Torch bearer in 2008.
Liu Han's powerful connections gave him certain control over local government appointments and promotions.
In 2000, he proposed a tourist project at Mount Siguniang in Xiaojin County, but the plan was rejected by Ge, a county chief. Ge was swiftly transferred away from Xiaojin and Liu Han's project got underway.
In 2007, a truck owned by Liu Wei's Guanghan gravel business was stopped for overloading. The man who stopped the truck, Lianshan Township party committee secretary Jiao, was demoted and transferred three months later.
According to a Guanghan official who refused to be named, Liu Han wields a lot of power in the promotion of local officials.
"Liu Han has money, connections, guns, and lieutenants willing to kill for him. Everyone is afraid of him. Once he is offended, you either die or lose your job," said Wen Xiangzhuo, a member of Liu's gang.
There was no shortage of people willing to do Liu's bidding. Local officials sought promotion, and gangsters toed the line because Liu could fix their troubles.
For more than ten years, Liu Han's bloc has brought tremendous psychological intimidation to bear on Sichuan society. Victims did not dare voice their concerns. Law enforcement officials turned pale at the mention of his name and kept well out of his way.
Even now, when police investigated in Sichuan, people with inside knowledge trembled and were reluctant to talk. At one victim's house, police went great lengths to persuade the family to cooperate, while they repeatedly demanded the police to keep the visit secret, afraid of Liu Han's retribution, even from behind prison walls.
All these obstacles do not deter the Party and the government. During a meeting on political and legal affairs last month, President Xi Jinping ordered law enforcers to "carry the sword of equality and scales of justice" and to defend social justice and equality, however they could.
Even with Liu's case under intense scrutiny by central authorities, it took a year of painstaking investigation under the direct command of the Ministry of Public Security before the gang was busted and its key members seized, after more than 20 years of alleged evil.
As the news broke, local people celebrated with fire crackers; perhaps a new beginning on a par with the lunar New Year.
"Now that Liu Han and Liu Wei have been arrested, merchants can finally do businesses as they will, and Guanghan will be stable for years to come," said a resident on condition of anonymity.
With the case now before the courts, the truth about the real Liu Han behind the billionaire facade awaits final exposure.
The downfall of the Han gang is a prime example of central authorities' commitment to fight corruption and defend social justice.
The law does not bend to any individual's will or words.