ORGANIZED CRIME IN TAIWAN

ORGANIZED CRIME IN TAIWAN

There are several prominent organized crime (OC) organizations in Taiwan. Organized crime and gangs in Taiwan remain involved in local politics and businesses, particularly in central and southern Taiwan. Their influence extends to the waste disposal, construction, cable TV, communications, stock trading, entertainment, gambling, loan sharking, debt collection, and prostitution industries. Due to aggressive law enforcement actions in the past, the major OC organizations have devolved into local units that have their own management structures and business interests; however, local units of the same organization will collaborate to accomplish a goal. While the major OC groups do not engage in drug trafficking, Taiwan's many street gangs do. Taiwan's organized crime groups and street gangs rarely target the expatriate community. [Source: Taiwan 2012 Crime and Safety Report Overseas Security Advisory Council - Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State]

By one count there were 10,582 gangsters in 1,236 gangs, including 300 or so major ones, in Taiwan in 1997. Violence carried out by Taiwan's gangs tends to be limited, though the gangs themselves exercise considerable political influence, particularly on Taiwanese county governments.

Gangsters in Taiwan are involved in business and foreign trade in ways you don’t usually se in other countries. Members of the “Highest Alliance” gang once showed up in force at a shareholder meeting of a steel company and were believed to be involved in the take over the company’s board by one of the shareholders. Taiwanese gangsters have also been active overseas. They have been involved in producing counterfeit 10,000 yen banknotes distributed in Japan. In the first half of 2005, the Department of Justice arrested 87 Taiwanese triad gang members in Long Beach, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. They were charged with smuggling counterfeit dollar bills and tobacco. A U.S. government official stated, “It is true that some North Korean were among the arrested 87.”

Book: “Henjin: Organized Crime, Business and Politics in Taiwan” by Ko-lin Chin, Armonk, London, M.E. Sharpe, 2003. “Heijin” summarises existing primary and secondary sources in an English-language publication and offers new and important insights. Chin conducted interviews with 117 informants, among which government officials, police officers, elected deputies from all levels of administration and 32 figures in organised crime, some major.

History of Organized Crime in Taiwan

Mac William Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, “When Chinese Nationalist troops fled to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war in the late 1940s, they brought the gangsterism of Shanghai with them. The Chinese Nationalist Army was little more than a rabble of illiterate and uneducated bandits, and many of its senior officers were basically warlords and thugs. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek himself climbed to power with the cooperation and muscle of the powerful gangsters in Shanghai. [Source: Mac William Bishop, Asia Times, June 4, 2005 \*/]

“After it had established itself on Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), used gangs established by the scions of its leaders for a number of nefarious purposes - including assassinations, brutal attacks on dissidents, and outright theft - throughout the period of martial law in Taiwan. The Bamboo Union, or Zhu Lien Bang, quickly became the largest and most powerful of these gangs, a position it retains to this day. \*/

“Black Gold” (heijin) is the term used to describe the iron triangle of organised crime, business and politics. It is a major topic in the Taiwanese media and subject of many studies in Chinese, but receives little attention outside Taiwan.In a review of the book: “Henjin: Organized Crime, Business and Politics in Taiwan” by Ko-lin Chin, Christian Göbel wrote in China Perspectives on how “big brothers”, the leaders of organised crime groups, became major figures in Taiwan’s economic and political realms. “It shows how gangsters have made their way into big business by first offering services such as dispute resolution and protection and later becoming involved in legitimate and illegitimate business deals themselves, most of all in the construction sector. Economically powerful, they were still politically vulnerable, and so needed protection. Thus, the door was opened for collusion between politicians and “Black Gold” elements, the latter finally running for office themselves. Well-known crime bosses such as Wu Tse-yuan, Lin Ming-yi and Lo Fu-chu were thus able to become national legislators despite their criminal background.”

Involvement of Organized Crime and Taiwanese Society and Religion

Jonathan Adams wrote in Global Post: “Like their counterparts the world over, Taiwan's gangsters boast colorful nicknames and truck in drugs, gun-running, prostitution, human trafficking, construction firm kickbacks, petty extortion and other racketeering. But what sets Taiwan's wise guys apart from their Sicilian or Japanese brethren is the extent of their open involvement in political and religious life. "Some gangsters aren't so bad, and have close relations with political parties and local religious factions," said Chiu Hei-yuan, a sociologist at Taiwan's Academia Sinica. "That's a part of Taiwan society." [Source: Jonathan Adams, Global Post, May 30, 2010 *=*]

“ Gangsters here attempt to influence religious life. One mobster-turned-legislator runs a famous temple in central Taiwan, not far from Fool-face's home turf. Chiu, the sociologist, says he has difficulty explaining to foreign colleagues how local people could accept this.Chiu suspects it has something to do with Taiwan's casual take on religion. "Taiwan folk religion is so secular. It's not sacred," he said. Rural Taiwanese worship a jumble of Taoist, Buddhist and folk figures, and gods who don't answer prayers are promptly kicked to the curb. Temples are rowdy places, with cell phone ring tones mixing with the clacking sound of divination blocks hitting the ground. *=*

Gangsters also have strong support in their home communities, usually poor farming or fishing villages, said National Taiwan University's Chao. They make their money on the sins of the city, while doling out cash, favors and "face" to their loyal and affectionate hometown crowd. "They take care of their home communities, and only 'hunt' or do something illegal in urban areas," said Chao. "That's why they can win elections." *=*

Politics and Gangsters in Taiwan

According to the Ministry of Justice, between 5 and 10 percent of the members in parliament have gang affiliation, According to one Taiwanese political scientist, some 40 percent of Taiwan's local council members had criminal records and about a third had ties with organized crime. Some politicians openly admit their links to gangsters. Most are Kuomintang members. During the dictatorship of the Nationalists, government leaders sometimes asked gangsters to assault critical journalist. Similar relations have been established between gangsters and Communist Chinese officials.

In 1995, a former gangster who became the speaker in his county council was shot at point blank range apparently in revenge in a dispute over gambling. A speaker in another country council was put on death row after he admitted to murdering a man who refused to pay protection money. After one former gangster was elected to the local council he coerced the other members in the council to name him speaker. When local newspapers criticized some of his actions, thugs in white masks stormed their editorial offices and smashed their computers with baseball bats.

Politicians working with gangster have been accused of bid rigging and other scams. A multimillion-dollar expansion of the international airport was delayed after a bid rigging scam was exposed. Some politicians hire gangsters to “get out the vote” using threats and intimidation. There have been mob attacks, murders and kidnaping and several beatings involving local officials and gangsters.

Jonathan Adams wrote in Global Post: In Taiwan, gangsters don't just "buy" politicians, they become them. About 15 to 20 percent of local township and county councilors and township heads are gangsters, or "heidaoren" (people of the black way) according to Chao Yung-mao, an expert on Taiwan politics and the mob at National Taiwan University. The numbers are especially large in rural central and southern Taiwan, where traditions and old-boy networks still run strong. He said about four or five gangsters hold office in the national legislature, and one wise guy even held a powerful county commissioner seat. [Source: Jonathan Adams, Global Post, May 30, 2010 *=*]

“Chao dates the mob's big move into politics to the 1980s, when illegal lottery fever swept Taiwan and gangsters were looking to get a cut of the action. "That was a good time to get into politics, so you could host the games and make money," he said. Gangsters also have indirect pull on politics, leaving office-holders bound in ties of obligation. They can help mobilize votes, through "vote-buying" or intimidation. That can be important in a close election, said Chin Ko-lin, an expert on Taiwan organized crime at Rutgers University. *=*

“Chao said gangsters' political reach distorts Taiwan's democracy and hurts society. He cited poor-quality construction and the appointment of gangster cronies to local government posts as just two examples. But he was hopeful that change is coming, even if slowly, as rural traditions fade. "Urbanization is a big challenge for the mafia world," said Chao. "Young people don't care as much about 'guanxi' [personal networks of obligation] — they care about a politician's performance. That's a good environment for change." *=*

Organized Crime and the Kuomintang

Organized crime in Taiwan has traditionally had ties with big business and the Kuomintang. In China, Chiang Kai-shek hired the brutal Green Gang to kill thousands of students and labor organizers with purported ties to the Communists. When Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan many of his gangster friends followed him and set up protection rackets, brothels and gambling parlors on the island. The gangs were relatively immune from police prosecution and were occasionally called upon by the Kuomintang for their services such as the assassination of dissident writer Henry Liu in 1984.

When Chiang Kai-shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo came to power he tried to severe the links between the Kuomintang and organized crime. Today, according to Reuters, violence carried out by Taiwan's gangs is limited, though the gangs themselves exercise considerable political influence, particularly on Taiwanese county governments. It was said in the 1990s that organized crime was so deeply impeded in the Kuomintang that eliminating the gangster element completely could bring down his party. One opposition leader told Newsweek, "It's like a bees nest in a garden. If they try to burn it, they could burn down the house."

Black Gold: Organized Crime, Politics and Business in Taiwan

In his review of the book: “Henjin: Organized Crime, Business and Politics in Taiwan” by Ko-lin Chin, Christian Göbel wrote in China Perspectives: “According to Chin, organised crime, business and politics have become so intricately locked together that “the line between legitimacy and illegitimacy is blurred, and many people move back and forth across the line”. At the same time, as Chin’s study shows, “Black Gold” is not something confined to the Nationalist Party (KMT), but involves local-level DPP-politicians as well. This might explain the phenomenon’s staying-power. [Source: Christian Göbel, China Perspectives]

Politicians accuse each other of collusion with “Black Gold” [Henjin: the triangle of organized crime, politics and business] and downplay their own role in the aforementioned triangle, law enforcement officers find themselves utterly powerless to break into these structures, and crime bosses brag about how much they serve society by settling disputes and even bid-rigging ! In this way, Chin offers an insight into the mindset of the actors that are part of the heijin- game, how they legitimise their actions and how they view each other.

Chin plausibly argues that the KMT administration’s strategy of selective crackdowns instead of institutional reforms had a self-serving purpose and the adverse consequence of worsening the problem instead of solving it. “Operation Cleansweep” serves as a case in point, marking a watershed in the development of organised crime in Taiwan. One direct result of the crackdown was the formation of the “Celestial Alliance” by several Taiwanese gangsters who were imprisoned in the course of the crackdown. Also, as many gangsters fled the island, so Taiwanese organised crime entered the international arena. Further, when the former gang leaders were released a few years after the crackdown, they wanted their positions back, resulting in bloody gang warfare and the deterioration of gang ethics.

Chin suggests that “most politicians were willing to have close relationships with organised crime” (heidao) ; because—figures the author—the latter can help them win votes. Gangsters, as Chin explains, are good vote-getters (for others and themselves) especially in rural areas because of their “grassroots personality”, their “influence”, the “services” they offer their constituents, their “generosity”, their ability to obtain construction funds for their constituency and because voters want to protest against the “establishment”. On the other hand, Chin suggests that people in Taiwan were “outraged by the deterioration of law and order in their society”. The root of the paradox might lie in the simplistic equation of “vote captains” or “pillars” (zhuangjiao) with “organised criminals” (heidao). Given the diverse backgrounds of the vote captains, this equation overstretches the concept of “organised crime”, produces the misleading assumption that every Taiwanese politician is somehow related to gangsters and underestimates the complexity of social relations in Taiwan.

Organized Crime Gangs in Taiwan

The four largest organized crime gangs in Taiwan are the United Bamboo Gang, Four Seas Gang, Celestial Path Alliance Gang, and Songlian Gang. The Four Seas Gang and Bamboo Union are regarded as the most powerful gangs in Taiwan. The Bamboo Union and the Green Gang arrived with Chiang Kai-shek from the mainland in 1949. The Four Seas Gang is regarded as one of Taiwan's largest triads. In recent years the Four Seas Gang it has moved many of its operations to Shanghai.

Major organized crime gangs in Taiwan: 1)United Bamboo: Strength: 10,000 members, mostly second-and third-generation mainland immigrants. Activities: construction, security services, debt collection, loan sharking, gambling dens, hostess clubs, restaurants, small businesses. 2) Four Seas: Strength: up to 2,000 members, mostly second-and third-generation mainland immigrants. Activities: construction, security services, debt collection, massage parlors, brothels, small businesses. 3) Sung Lian: Strength: several hundred members, mostly second-and third-generation mainland immigrants. Activities: debt collection, massage parlors, brothels, small businesses. 4) Tian Dao Man: Strength: several hundred members, mostly native Taiwanese. Activities: debt collection, massage parlors, brothels, small businesses.

Mac William Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, According to Taiwan's National Police Agency (NPA), gangs in Taiwan are broken down along ethnic lines, with the two largest gangs - the Bamboo Union and the Four Seas - comprising mainland Chinese and their descendents who fled to Taiwan with the KMT. The Bamboo Union has more than 10,000 members worldwide, according to the US Customs Service, while the Four Seas has about 2,000 members. [Source: Mac William Bishop, Asia Times, June 4, 2005 \*/]

“The third-largest gang in Taiwan, the Celestial Way, or Tien Dao Meng, is made up primarily of Hakka Taiwanese - descendents of Chinese from Fujian province who came to Taiwan nearly 400 years ago. The NPA estimates that the Celestial Way has about 500 to 700 members. But one Taiwanese police official said it was difficult to arrive at an accurate estimate of membership figures for Hakka Taiwanese gangs, due to their comparatively loose organizational structure. \*/

“In comparison, the mainland gangs - especially the Bamboo Union - are relatively disciplined and well organized, complete with rank systems, promotions and benefits. According to a junior Bamboo Union "boss" who asked to be referred to as "Big Brother Hsu" (most senior gang figures are given the honorific prefix "Da Ge", or "Big Brother") the gang is divided into approximately 13 divisions, or tang kou, with names such as "Tiger Division" and "Dragon Division". Big Brother Hsu is not related to Hsu Hai-ching. "In reality, the Bamboo Union's tang kou operate as independent gangs, and often fight each other for territory and business," a Taiwanese police officer who specializes in gangs said. Due to the sensitivity of his job, he requested that he be identified only by his surname, Wang. \*/

United Bamboo

The United Bamboo (Zhu Lien Bang) is the largest organized crime group in Taiwan. It has 10,000 members, mostly second-and third-generation mainland immigrants. Activities: construction, security services, debt collection, loan sharking, gambling dens, hostess clubs, restaurants, small businesses. It is known internationally for: Drug smuggling, human trafficking, and silencing journalists as far away as Northern California.

According to Foreign Policy magazine: “United Bamboo emerged as the largest of several Beijing-backed assassination machines in the wake of the Communist takeover of mainland China. In 1984, their dissident hunt took them as far as suburban San Francisco where they murdered Chinese-American journalist Henry Liu in his own garage. Two decades later, United Bamboos gangsters are just as international but now have their hands in virtually every facet of illegal activity imaginable, including human trafficking, gunrunning, and the drug trade, according to the Asia Times. The scale of its illicit trade is only magnified by its shady, wide-reaching networks, with direct links to fellow illicit groups such as the Chinese triads, the Japanese yakuza, and gang members active from the United States to Europe to Australia. Taiwans National Security Bureau even thinks United Bamboos drug trade has reached North Korea with direct approval from Kim Jong Ils regime. A well-structured, underground mob, United Bamboo and its wheelings and dealings usually fly below the radar. But in May 2005, when a 10-km procession of men in black shirts turned out for the funeral of one-time gang leader Hsu Hai-ching (at 93, Hsu had met his end choking on a piece of nigiri sushi), Taipei was reminded that United Bamboo and its yakuza counterparts were still a force to be reckoned with. [Source: Foreign Policy, May 8, 2008]

United Bamboo Members' Code of Ethics: 1) Harmony with the people is the first priority. We have to establish good social and personal connections so as not to create enemies. 2) We have to seek special favors and help from uncommitted gang members by emphasizing our relationships with outside people. Let them publicize us. 3) Gambling is our main financial source. We have to be careful how we handle it. 4) Do not take it upon yourself to start things and make decisions you are not authorized to make. You are to discuss and plan all matters with the group and the elder brother first. 5) Everyone has their assigned responsibility. Do not create confusion! 6) We must not divulge our plans and affairs to outsiders, for example to our wives, girlfriends, etc. This is for our own safety. 7) We have to be united with all our brothers and obey our elder brother's orders. 8) All money earned outside the group must be turned over to the group. You must not keep any of it for yourself. Let the elder brother decide. 9) When targeting wealthy prospects do not act hastily. Furthermore, do not harass or threaten them. Act to prevent suspicion and fear upon their part. 10) If anything unexpected happens, do not abandon your brothers. If arrested, shoulder all responsibility and blame. Do not involve your brothers. {Sources: United Bamboo Gang: Portrait of a Triad, U.S. Customs Service; "Code of ethics" is translated from a document seized by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department]

Organized Crime Gang Leaders in Taiwan

After an unknown gunman murdered Four Seas gang leader, Chen Yung-Ho, in 1996 some 10,000 gang members showed up at his funeral to pay their respects, including representatives of Japan's yakuza, Hong Kong's triads, and New York's tongs. More than 5,000 mourners from the rival Taiwanese Bamboo Union were than along with 3,000 Four Seas gang member dressed in dark suits with the gangs name written on them.

Lee "Fool-face" Chao-hsiung, a top godfather of a Taiwanese gang, made a name as a trusted judge of underworld disputes. According to the Global Times, “He was a top figure in the Tiandaomeng, or Heavenly Way Alliance, a "super-group" of local Taiwanese gangs formed by top mobsters while they were jailed together in a crime sweep, said Chao. Heavenly Way's underworld competitors are "Mainlander" gangs like the Bamboo Union with roots in the 1940s Kuomintang exodus to Taiwan; that rivalry was the backdrop of a recent hit film "Monga." [Source: Jonathan Adams, Global Post, May 30, 2010 *=*]

Reporting on his funeral in Taipei, Jonathan Adams wrote in Global Post: They came by the thousands to pay their respects — politicians, Buddhist nuns and hundreds of tough-looking guys in black. The object of their veneration:Lee "Fool-face" Chao-hsiung. Lee went out in style last week, his body carried to a crematorium in a 108-car convoy of Rolls-Royces, Mercedes-Benzes and Beemers. As a nervous phalanx of police rolled videotape, the cream of Taiwan's underworld filed past, joined by scores of politicians, female models and chanting, robed nuns and monks from the island's top Buddhist groups.

“The politicians in attendance at Fool-face's farewell included more than 10 legislators, the legislative speaker (who doubled as the head of Fool-face's funeral committee), the local county commissioner, the local city council head and a prominent mayor, according to the China Times. The mayor said he was there to show gratitude for Fool-face's $630,000 gift to the city. "For a politician, what are you going to do, take the risk of losing an election?" said Chin. "And not many people will criticize you for showing up at a gangster's funeral." *=*

Hsu "Mosquito Brother" Hai-ching and His Funeral

Hsu Hai-ching, who died in 2005 at the age of 93, was one of Taiwan most notorious and enduring crime figures. Everyone knew him as "Wen Ge", or "Mosquito Brother". Mac William Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, “Hsu's career is a microcosm of Taiwan's history. Starting off as a small-time local gangster when Taiwan was still a Japanese colony, Hsu made a name for himself in the Taipei district of Wanhua in the late 1930s. As with most Taiwanese from his generation, Hsu spoke fluent Japanese, which enabled him to forge ties with the Japanese underworld. Until he retired in the early 1980s, he was known principally for his ability to negotiate accords between rival gangs, thus earning him the nickname "The Final Arbitrator". On April 6, he died at the age of 93 from complications resulting from an encounter with a piece of nigiri sushi, on which he had almost choked to death 12 days earlier.[Source: Mac William Bishop, Asia Times, June 4, 2005 \*/]

On his funeral, Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, “More than 10,000 gangsters from dozens of crime syndicates from across Asia gathered in Taipei. The various organizations represented at the memorial make up a who's who list of Asian gangs. Included in the mix were the Bamboo Union, the Four Seas and the Celestial Way, Taiwan's largest gangs, as well as the Yamaguchi-gumi - one of the two most powerful yakuza organizations in Japan - and several triads from Hong Kong and Macau. Police turned out in the hundreds to keep the event peaceful - and also to videotape the proceedings and gather intelligence about gang members and their affiliations. The gang members, wearing black shirts, formed a procession of three abreast and escorted Hsu's ashes for 10 kilometers to a cemetery on the outskirts of Taipei. The procession seriously disrupted traffic in the city, wreaking havoc for the more than 50,000 students trying to take their high school entrance exams.” \*/

Gangster Violence in Taiwan

In November 1996, a county magistrate was murdered gangland style along with seven associates and family members. Masked gunmen broke into the house of Taoyuan County Magistrate Liu Pang-you, tied up the victims and shot each one in the head at point blank range. A Filipina maid who managed to hide heard one gunman mutter that Liu’s “crime” was being “just too obnoxious.” Liu has been involved in some shady business deals in the past and is believed to have been involved in a deal that went sour.

In March 2007, Reuters reported: “An alleged Taiwanese gangster has chosen a novel way of threatening the life of a rival: He sent a video to a local TV station in which he promises to kill him the next time they meet. Chou Cheng-bao, reputedly a member of the Celestial Way Gang, sent the video to Cable Station TVBS on Monday, less than two weeks after police say he was involved in a shoot-out with other members of the gang at a pub in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung. The video was broadcast repeatedly on Taiwanese cable news stations. Wearing a tight-fitting black top and matching flak jacket, Chou brandishes a pistol in the direction of a table laden with automatic and semiautomatic rifles, and says he is gunning for Liu Rei-rong, reputedly another member of the gang. "The next time I bump into you, I'll kill you," he says.[Source: Reuters, March 27, 2007]

“Taiwanese media say Chou was attempting to kill Liu during the Taichung shoot-out on March 18. They say Liu was wounded, though not seriously. A police said Chou's threat against Liu -- and the public way it was made -- may be an effort by him to raise his standing in the Celestial Way Gang. "This was a blunt challenge to police," he said, adding that police reinforcements would now be mobilized to try to bring him to justice. [Ibid]

Gangster-Run Funeral Businesses in Taiwan

Gangsters run the mortuary business in Taiwan. Known as”funeral rascals,” they have muscled into the lucrative business and make huge amounts of money overcharging grieving relatives for everything from coffins to transporting the body.

After car accidents fights sometimes break out between gangs of rival mortuaries over who can claim the dead bodies. Corrupt police sometimes provide tips. There is a general understanding that whoever get the shroud on the body first get the business.

Employees at city-run morgues and graveyards take bribes from the funeral parlors. Some have been beaten up for demanding bribes that are to high. Thugs sometimes break into the offices of rival funeral companies and beat up employees and smash urns of ashes. To crack down on shady practices, the Taiwanese government lists honest funeral parlors on its website and organizes mass funerals to help people cut costs.

Taiwan's Gangs Go Global

Taiwan’s organized crime gangs are expanding their reach overseas. "The gangs have followed the same trends as Taiwanese companies - they keep their headquarters and their profits in the country, while 'outsourcing' production and distribution to mainland China and Southeast Asia," a gangster known as Big Brother Hsu told the Asia Times. "We are basically just businessmen." [Source: Mac William Bishop, Asia Times, June 4, 2005 \*/]

Mac William Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, “And enterprising ones, at that. According to Taiwan's NPA, the Bamboo Union's members are involved in virtually every facet of illegal activity imaginable - from the standard activities of prostitution, gambling and extortion locally, to gun-running, drug-smuggling and human trafficking on a global scale. According to one expert on organized crime, Lin Chung-cheng, Taiwanese gangs are involved in businesses worth nearly US$1.85 billion a year - and their activities are as internationalized as any multinational corporation. \*/

“Bamboo Union-linked gangsters are active in the US, Canada, Britain, France and Australia, as well as virtually every country in Asia. In January 2004, members of the Bamboo Union were even tracked to North Korea by Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB). The NSB believes that the reclusive regime of Kim Jong-il has been using Taiwanese gangs - who maintain extensive connections with their brethren in mainland China, as well as with the descendents of the "Lost Nationalist Army" that fled to the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia after the Chinese civil war - as a conduit for the smuggling of drugs. \*/

“In fact, many high-profile and internationally wanted gangsters from the Bamboo Union flee to or retire in Southeast Asia or China. One such gangster is Bai Lang, or the "White Wolf", who was connected with the assassination of Taiwanese dissident author Henry Liu in Daly City, California, in 1984, and was charged in Taiwan with involvement in narcotics smuggling. Bai Lang now lives in Cambodia. \*/

Big Brother Hsu offered a quick example of how the gangs worked together. "Let's say someone wants to ship heroin to Japan, Australia or the US. One of the best ways would be to bring it through southern China, across the Taiwan Strait in a fishing boat, and then load it onto a container ship in Kaohsiung [in southern Taiwan - one of the busiest ports in the world]," he said. "The shipment could then be met by people at the destination. "To do that," said Big Brother Hsu, "a person would have to cooperate with lots of [gangs] along the way."\*/

And what about guns, or people? "There are factories in China that produce illegal Black Stars [a type of 7.62 millimeter semi-automatic handgun]. And there are always people trying to leave China and Southeast Asia," Big Brother Hsu said said. "Many of them want to come here, go to Japan, the US, or Europe - even Australia." So where do the guns end up? "Wherever people can afford them," he said, smiling. \*/

Meeting Between Taiwanese Gangs and the Yakuza

Mac William Bishop wrote in the Asia Times, “This correspondent was granted a rare opportunity to observe the cooperation between Japanese and Taiwanese gangs during a meeting at an upscale hotel in Taipei. Members of the Bamboo Union and the Celestial Way met with representatives of the Japanese yakuza gang Yamaguchi-gumi in the wake of the memorial service for Hsu Hai-ching. Security was heavy, and yakuza members frisked everyone entering the suite in which the meeting took place. Although the day had been officially declared a day of truce by the organizers of the memorial, the Celestial Way, it was clear that the yakuza were taking no chances. [Source: Mac William Bishop, Asia Times, June 4, 2005 \*/]

“When asked why the Yamaguchi-gumi - which, according to Japan's top law enforcement agency, has more than 38,000 members worldwide - was making such a conspicuous display of their presence in Taipei, one of the yakuza members responded: "We wanted to show our appreciation for Brother Hsu [Hai-ching]. Besides, people should know that we are always here. We have lots of friends in Taiwan." It is because of the growing links between Asian crime syndicates that US law enforcement agencies have begun to describe Taiwan as a major transshipment point for illicit drugs, guns and human trafficking. \*/

“And the gangs have no problem casting aside their rivalries when there is money to be made. "We recognize that we often have more to gain through cooperation than through feuding," the yakuza member said. He would not go into detail about how the Yamaguchi-gumi was cooperating with Taiwanese gangs. \*/

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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