The Last Chinese Godfather
"I meet him at one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown, frequented often by locals called Brother Mings', I see a man who was once one of the most notorious gangsters in Chinatown, now a remnant of his former self. Years of drug use, fight against cancer and the angst of mistresses dating back to the 90s he wears upon his face, which have seemingly humbled him into submission to a living a civilian life, "Sid Chow", he says greeting me with the traditional handshake.
"Chinatown ain't what it was, kids nowadays... (Disgruntled) They don't have no respect for the way things should be. I mean that's what all of you never understood. We had rules. We brought our own laws from back in China. We were gangsters, but we had rules, we had our own higher authority. You couldn't go to the cops? You came to us. Now, it's just all chaos. No respect for anything. Kids get killed over cigarettes." He ashes his cigarette non-chalantly in the empty coffee cup he seemed to have consumed before I arrived.
Crime has dipped enormously regarding Asian gangs in Liberty City, Los Santos and San Fierro since the 90s. The police forces claim they have cleaned up the streets and the creation of the Asian Gangs Unit seems to have wiped out most of the bigger gangs. Chow comments:
"Yeah... There's not a lot of crime going on recently. Back when I was going up, you would hear about a sai lo (brother) getting shot, walk down three blocks and see another shooting. But right now? There just isn't any attraction to choosing a life of crime nowadays like it was. Chinese families now are mostly middle-class. And we have our associations backing it up within the community. We were never about the crime. It was just a social thing, the gambling and such."
However, even very recently in 2017 we saw one of the most violence the city has ever encountered in Asian organized crime. In a series of shootings seven Chinese-americans were murdered, authoritied believed all of them had ties to Asian gangs, including the Water Room Gang, or Shui Fong, leading back to Macau where this Triad Society has its roots.
This, however isn't the only evidence of Asian OC presence in the U.S. Organized crime experts, including the Asian Gang expert and professor of SFU's School of Criminal Justice, Dr. Guo Chang claims that there are currently over 200,000 triad members active in Asia alone and while Anti-Triad law is effective in dumbing down Triad related crime in Hong Kong and China, there is still a huge triad presence in Macau, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia. Most notably Singapore and Thailand where groups like the 14K have moved a large portion of their operations. This problem is not pertaining only to Asia, however, these groups are transnational in nature, meaning the crimes they commit range out overseas to Europe. Some crime schemes with the Triad footprint and Asian OC modus operandi have reached as far as Belgium and South Africa. Dr. Guo Chang also believes there are numerous Triad groups active in the U.K, Netherlands, Canada and the United States.
All this leads me to believe something doesn't add up. On one hand, police authorities in the States claim they have rooted out the problem of Asian organized crime in the U.S with means such as the Asian Gang Task Force, but every once in a while we get a glimpse into the underworld of Asian OC, a shark fin in the distant water, leading us to the conclusion that despite the streets being cleaner than in the 90s, the era of Ghost Shadows and the Hop Sing Boys, things haven't changed that much. The crime groups have moved out of the public eye into the backrooms of restaurants and massage parlors. Drug crime is still prevalent and murders are still happening every day, except now, there are no witnesses to tell the story."