NEW YORK -- Investigators searched today for seven members of Chinatown's notorious Ghost Shadows gang, compared to the Mafia in its early days and blamed for robberies, extortion, kidnappings and at least 13 murders.
Eighteen gang members were arrested Monday and await arraignment today in the largest sweep of Asian gangsters ever made in the city.
'These groups remind me very, very much of the Mafia and the Black Hand of the turn of the century,' said U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani. Calling them 'the most parasitic form' of crminals, he said the gang uses violence to 'prey on their own people.'
A federal indictment named 25 people, but seven suspects, including several of the gang's leaders, remain fugitives.
The Ghost Shadows who were in custody, including gang leader Yin Poy 'Nicky' Louie, 29, were to be arraigned today on federal racketeering charges.
Authorities said the gang was headquarted on Chinatown's Mott Street and protected gambling houses and extorted money from restaurants and other Chinese businesses in the area.
In addition, the indictment said gang members committed murders, robberies and kidnapping. Since the gang was founded in 1971, its members have committed 13 murders and have attempted numerous other murders.
They said during battles with other Chinatown gangs, members of the Ghost Shadows accidentally shot and killed a 40-year-old woman and wounded six people in the Co Luk Restaurant in 1976, and abducted and killed two men who were mistaken for members of a rival gang in 1980.
'They're not the best marksmen in the world,' said Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
Most of the members of the gang are immigrants from Hong Kong who live here legally, Giuliani said.
The indictments would not wipe out the gang, which has members in other cities including Boston, Chicago, and in Canada, Giuliani said.
'You've got to keep at it, making case after case,' he said. But, he added, 'it should go a long way toward destroying them' and might encourage people to testify against such gangs.
Morgenthau said 'tremendous progress' has been made in getting witnesses from the usually silent Chinese community.
The police department's Oriental Gang Unit began investigating the Ghost Shadows and other gangs in 1980, and about 85 cases of related criminal activity have come before the District Attorney, providing leads for these indictments, Morgethau said.