While the media is still focused on the arrest of Irish crime boss turned informant turned fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, one tends to forget there are a lot of other criminal groups still operating in Boston. A recent bust puts the spotlight on the city’s Chinatown.
On Friday July 8, 26 people were charged with working for organized crime groups in Chinatown, selling drugs varying from oxycodone pills to ecstasy, operating prostitution rings, money laundering, extortion, and illegal gambling.
According to a statement made by FBI agent Thomas Conboy, the information that made these arrests possible came from a confidential informant and secret video recordings. Conboy told of one violent incident involving Hin Pau, one of the defendants who allegedly worked as an enforcer for a crime gang.
It is alleged Pau confronted a man about an unpaid gambling debt after which an altercation occurred. “Pau fought with the man in the gambling den, and then had told one of his associates to get a ‘piece of metal,’ meaning a gun, which [the informant] was told was being kept nearby in case of need.”
Newspaper The Boston Globe was the only paper to pay attention to this news. Reporter David Abel made clear that despite the official FBI statement “prosecutors declined to speak about the indictments or ongoing investigation, and many details remained unclear.”
Abel did point out an interesting tidbit though: “In his statement in court documents, Conboy described alleged connections between crime rings in the Boston and New York Chinatowns”, Abel wrote.
Though there is little focus on these connections in the Globe article, it is an interesting piece of information. And also one that has a long and bloody history. Chinese organized crime groups have, for many years, tried to organize themselves into a national body.
As recently as the 1990s Asian gangs have fought for control of American Chinatowns and the national drug market. In the early 1990s, a Triad crime boss by the name of Peter Chong had begun a partnership with Boston crime boss Wayne Kwong. Chong had plans for a national syndicate called “Tien Ha Wui" or "Whole Earth Association". This syndicate would be comprised of all the Asian gangs in the United States, and would be led by him.
But before the plan could come to fruition both bosses ended up in hand cuffs. Kwong began cooperating with authorities and Chong was sentenced to prison in 2002. According to the Bureau of Prisons he was released on July 29, 2008 at the age of 65.
Could the successors of Boston gang boss Wayne Kwong have been planning another national syndicate, instead this time looking to their brothers in New York? An interesting question that should have an even more interesting answer as these 26 men go to trial.
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