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Chinese criminals in America.

"Chinese Mafia" is a myth, but heroin trafficking is rising

Contrary to the fears of some lawenforcement officials, there is no "Chinese Mafia- that will rival the Sicilian Mafia as the foremost crime organization in the United States, says an expert on Chinese crime groups. However, an emerging class of Chinese drug traffickers, only loosely affiliated with the crime groups, could pose increasing dangers to U.S. society.

These conclusions come from Chinese Subculture and Criminality: Non-traditional Crime Groups in America by Ko-lin Chin, a senior research analyst for the New York City Criminal justice Agency, In 1984, the President's Commission on Organized Crime predicted that Asian crime groups would be the foremost organized-crime problem in the United States in the 1990s. Federal authorities have been especially concerned about the emergence of the Chinese in the heroin trade and the possible transfer of Hong Kong organized-crime groups to the United States in 1997, when the British cede the colony to the People's Republic of China. Law-enforcement authorities in North America allege that Chinese street gangs and adult crime groups are part of a structurally integrated, international syndicate known as the Chinese Mafia. However, Chin concludes that "there has never been a Chinese Mafia on either the national or international level.... It is inappropriate to propose that the Chinese groups are now at the stage where the Italian groups were during the 1930s and that they will proceed to become the preeminent crime organization in the United States. "In fact," he says, "other than heroin trafficking, Chinese crime groups have not been able to expand their traditional criminal activities such as extortion, gambling, and prostitution from their own communities to non-Chinese communities." Chinese involvement in heroin trafficking has increased greatly since the mid-1980s, and Southeast Asian heroin (or "China White") now represents 40% of the heroin smuggled into the United States. Because China White is far purer than "Brown Heroin" from Mexico, there has been a dramatic increase in heroin overdoses and heroin-related illnesses, according to Chin. While law-enforcement efforts have focused on the role of Chinese street gangs and adult crime groups in heroin trafficking, Chin argues that the heroin trade in the United States has become "an 'equal opportunity employer' for Chinese from all walks of life who want to get rich quickly" or to solve their financial problems. This new generation of drug traffickers includes import-export businessmen, community leaders, restaurant owners, workers, gamblers, housewives, and the unemployed.

These occasional traffickers will present difficulties for law enforcement, Chin says, because they have no prior criminal records and no identifiable organization. They can conceal their criminal activities through their involvement in lawful business activities. For example, they may participate or invest in one heroin deal, collect the illegal gains, and put the money in real estate or other legal businesses such as restaurants.

As a result, such traffickers are more likely than members of Chinese street gangs and adult crime organizations "to infiltrate the larger society through drug trafficking, alien smuggling, money laundering, and other types of white-collar crime," warns Chin. Source: Chinese Subculture and Criminality: Non-traditional Crime Groups in America by Ko-lin Chin. Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881. 1990. 189 pages. $39.95.
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Publication:The Futurist
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1991
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