NEW YORK -- Seven members of the notorious Vietnamese street gang, 'Born to Kill,' including its leader, were convicted Monday of racketeering, robbery, extortion and the murder of a witness to a Chinatown robbery.
The gang, which committed its crimes almost exclusively against Asians, extorted 'protection' money from Asian restaurants and other businesses, creating a lucrative enterprise, authorities said.
'With this verdict, we believe we have taken out the heart of perhaps the most violent gang in New York City,' said U.S. Attorney Andrew Maloney after a jury in federal court in Brooklyn announced the verdict.
'The victimization of members of the Asian community by violent gangs will not go unpunished,' Maloney said.
Those convicted included the gang's founder and leader, David Thai, 36, and two of his top lieutenants, Lan Ngoc Tran, 29, and Lv Hong, 28, all of Melville, N.Y..
Thai and Tran were convicted of the execution-style murder of Sen Van Ta, a witness to the robbery of a Chinatown jewelry store committed by several Born to Kill members.
Evidence showed Thai plotted the slaying and Tran carried it out March10, 1991.
The defendants also were convicted of robbery or planning to rob Asian-owned businesses in Chinatown as well as in Rochester, N.Y., Connecticut, Georgia and Tennessee, and extorting several businesses in and near Canal Street.
Thai also was convicted of eight robberies or planned robberies, conspiring to bomb a restaurant in Chinatown and illegally possessing various firearms.
Tran also was convicted of the attempted murder of a robbery victim in Georgia and six additional robberies or planned robberies.
Jimmy Nguyen, 19, was convicted of racketeering based on a murder committed during the robbery of a Chinatown vegetable warehouse Aug. 27, 1990.
Several robbery victims who testified at the trial described in detail how they were physically assaulted and threatened if they cooperated with the police.
A sentencing date was not set. The defendants each face up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine on each of the two racketeering counts as well as on each of the robbery and extortion counts.
Thai also faces up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the attempted bombing and firearms convictiions.
Born to Kill got its name from a slogan used by American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War, prosecutors said.
Authorities estimated the gang has over 100 members since Thai formed it in 1985 with young Vietnamese men in their teens and early 20s who had splintered off the 'Flyin Dragons,' a Chinese youth gang.