Chinatown Gangs: Extortion, Enterprise, and Ethnicity (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

Chinatown Gangs: Extortion, Enterprise, and Ethnicity (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

Language: English

Pages: 233

ISBN: 0195136276

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Chinatown Gangs, Ko-lin Chin penetrates a closed society and presents a rare portrait of the underworld of New York City's Chinatown. Based on first-hand accounts from gang members, gang victims, community leaders, and law enforcement authorities, this pioneering study reveals the pervasiveness, the muscle, the longevity, and the institutionalization of Chinatown gangs. Chin reveals the fear gangs instill in the Chinese community. At the same time, he shows how the economic viability of the community is sapped, and how gangs encourage lawlessness, making a mockery of law enforcement agencies.

Ko-lin Chin makes clear that gang crime is inexorably linked to Chinatown's political economy and social history. He shows how gangs are formed to become "equalizers" within a social environment where individual and group conflicts, whether social, political, or economic, are unlikely to be solved in American courts. Moreover, Chin argues that Chinatown's informal economy provides yet another opportunity for street gangs to become "providers" or "protectors" of illegal services. These gangs, therefore, are the pathological manifestation of a closed community, one whose problems are not easily seen--and less easily understood--by outsiders.

Chin's concrete data on gang characteristics, activities, methods of operation and violence make him uniquely qualified to propose ways to restrain gang violence, and Chinatown Gangs closes with his specific policy suggestions. It is the definitive study of gangs in an American Chinatown.

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area, you should help our operating cost." We won't say it directly. We give them a price, sometimes they negotiate. We take $700 to $1,000 a month from large restaurants, and $100 a week from take-out restaurants. It depends on the area where the business is located. We normally send only two to three guys because we do not want to scare the customers. When a group of gang members (usually four or five) shows up in a store to demand money from the owner, each person is assigned a specific role.

members are usually older than African American or Hispanic gang members (Bresler, 1981; Posner, 1988). A police officer who worked in Manhattan's Chinatown indicated that labeling Chinese gangs as youth gangs is not appropriate because most gang members are in their late 20s and early 30s (Chin, 1986). He insisted that gangs in Chinatown should be viewed as adult gangs. My study does not support this observation. The average age of the 62 gang members who participated in my study was

are lured by the opportunity to make money (U.S. Department of Justice, 1985, 1988; Posner, 1988). In this study, most respondents gave more than one reason for becoming gang members. The top five reasons, in order of importance, were money, protection, fun, brotherhood, and poweristatus (see table 6.3). Half of the 62 subjects mentioned making money as one of the primary reasons for joining a gang. They were impressed by the amount of money gang leaders appeared to have and were excited by

their services (U.S. Senate, 1992). Since thousands of Chinese are smuggled out of their country each year, people trafficking is a very lucrative business. One case illustrates the point: a 41-year-old Chinese woman convicted of smuggling a large number of Chinese into the United States was alleged to have earned approximately $30 million during her career (Chan and Dao, 1990a). A senior immigration official has estimated that Chinese organized crime groups make more than $1 billion a year from

the Asian Organized Crime Unit was established in 1992 in the Washington, D.C., area to deal with Asian crime. The unit includes 10 full-time and part-time investigators from the FBI, the INS, the Virginia State Police, and the Fairfax County and Arlington County police departments. Also, there are two interagency programs on the federal level that deal with Asian gangs, among other crime groups: the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Organized Crime and Racketeering

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