BEIJING - China is investigating eight police officers including a city deputy chief for their role in a prostitution ring that was busted last year, state media have reported.
The police - among them the deputy head of the public security bureau of Zhengzhou - have been put into the ruling Communist Party's internal interrogation process over their involvement, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported, citing police authorities of central province of Henan.
Their detention came after police in November raided an "entertainment complex" that allegedly organised and assisted with prostitution, evaded taxes and accommodated drug abuse, the report said Tuesday.
"Royal Number One", opened in August 2012, was believed to be the most luxurious facility of its kind in the city of Zhengzhou, with about 500 prostitutes and annual revenues topping 200 million yuan ($32 million), according to Chinese media reports.
Altogether 256 people have come under investigation and 133 of them have been transferred to prosecutors for indictment, the Southern Metropolis Daily said, citing Henan police.
The eight officers were suspected of taking financial and sexual bribes from the owner of Royal Number One in exchange for their "protection" of the facility, it said.
Initial investigation showed that up to 20 other police were also involved, said the newspaper.
"The (city) bureau's heads required those involved in the case to take the initiative to turn themselves in to the disciplinary commission to try to be treated with leniency," the report quoted an unnamed officer as saying.
Police collusion with criminals is not rare in China, where official corruption runs rampant.
In 2010, China executed Wen Qiang, a former head of the judiciary in the the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and a deputy police chief for 16 years who was at the centre of a huge graft and organised crime scandal.
Prostitution is illegal in China but an estimated 2.7 to 6 million sex workers operate from establishments including karaoke bars, hair salons, saunas and massage parlours.
In February, more than 6,000 police swept through hundreds of hotels, saunas and karaoke parlours in China's "sex capital" of Dongguan, arresting 67 people, shuttering 12 venues and suspending two police chiefs, after an expose by China's state broadcaster about prostitution in the southern city.