CHINESE TRIAD SOCIETIES, TONGS, ORGANIZED CRIME, AND STREET GANGS IN ASIA AND THE UNITED STATES

KO-LIN CHIN, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Since the liberalization of the immigration laws in 1965, the once tranquil Chinatowns in the United States have been experiencing a consistent increase in their crime rates. Street gangs formed by mainly young immigrants have terrorized the community through systematic extortion, robbery, and street violence. Their close association with some of the powerful traditional organizations has enabled them to impose on the community the kind of fear that no ordinary street gangs are capable of. Not only are the economic activities and lifestyles of the residents being affected profoundly by the gangs' reckless shootings, but the image of the Chinatowns on the part of the American public has also been damaged by these few hardcore criminals.^ This study, in attempting to explore the history, structure, and activity of the Chinese Triad societies, tongs, organized crime groups, and street gangs and how these groups are interrelated, has relied on five major sources: (1) index crime complaints and complaint rates of Manhattan's twenty-one precincts, 1968-83; (2) tape-recorded interviews with Triad, tong, and gang members, law enforcement authorities, and other related persons; (3) ethnographic field notes; (4) official reports; and (5) newspaper and magazine accounts.^ After examining the data collected for this study, we found that the rankings of crime rates in the fifth Precinct, in which New York City's Chinatown is located, rose from nineteenth in 1968 to tenth in 1983 among Manhattan's twenty-one precincts. The data also indicate that Triad societies are still very active in contemporary society, and the norms of values of the societies are being emulated by the tongs, organized crime groups, and street gangs. However, the four groups are quite distinctive both in nature and in the kinds of activities in which they engage; there is no evidence to support the assumption that they are interrelated structurally on a national or international basis. As a result, this study does not support the hypothesis proposed by American law enforcement authorities that Chinese criminal organizations in the United States will emerge as the number one crime problem in this country in the near future. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

KO-LIN CHIN, "CHINESE TRIAD SOCIETIES, TONGS, ORGANIZED CRIME, AND STREET GANGS IN ASIA AND THE UNITED STATES" (January 1, 1986). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8614778.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8614778

Share

COinS