SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco grand jury handed down a federal racketeering indictment Tuesday charging the alleged leaders of several major Chinese crime syndicates with counts ranging from heroin trafficking to murder for hire.
U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi said the indictments culminated a three-year investigation by the FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies into the activities of the crime families within the United States.
The indictment charges the leaders with attempting to unite their individual organizations into one powerful crime syndicate, controlling heroin trafficking, prostitution, illegal firearms distribution and extortion in several major U.S. cities.
'The indictment shows that these crime syndicates were trying to go from their local roots to becoming national in scope,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Schaefer, head of the Asian Organized Crime Strike Force. 'It also is very reflective of the growing sophistication of Asian organized crime in the United States.'
Among those indicted was Peter Chong, the alleged leader of the infamous Wo Hop To crime family, who has been arrested in Hong Kong and faces extradition to the United States.
Also named were Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow, an alleged leader of the West Coast-based Hop Sing Tong, and Wayne Kwong, the alleged leader of the On Leong Triad headquartered in Boston. Both men currently are in federal custody in Pleasanton, California, while awaiting trial on murder for hire, drug trafficking and illegal firearms charges.
'The indictment indicates that these three men are leaders of the Chinese crime syndicates in three major U.S. cities' -- Boston, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, Schaefer said.
According to the 48-count indictment, Chong, Chow, Kwong and six subordinates participated in activities violating federal racketeering statutes.
Among those activities was ordering the assassination of Bike Ming, a Boston-based rival of Kwong's; the development of a nationwide heroin distribution network; the arson was an apartment house in San Francisco and a massive loansharking operation.
If convicted of all counts, the trio could spend the rest of their lives in a federal prison.
Along with the three alleged leaders, the grand jury indicted 16 subordinates on a variety of charges including Au Shek Kan, the purported leader of the Portland, Oregon, branch of the Wo Hop To.
Kan was arrested by Oregon state troopers in 1992 while allegedly trying to run a shipment of illegal guns to Chow in San Francisco.NEWLN: ccccqqe