The Chinese Triads

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  • 2017-03-27

The Chinese Triads

The Chinese Triads
Final Research Paper

By: Sevag Koulian
9235949

Presented for: Monika Thakur
Poli 302 ??“ International Security

Concordia University
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Triads are a major criminal organization and were founded during the 17th century in China. They originally began as political groups who campaigned for a China free of foreign influence and invaders.[1] Their influence slowly increased at the political level and through time they became involved in all types of illicit activities and started running gambling, drug, prostitution and human trafficking rings. The Chinese Triads currently have global headquarters located in Hong Kong where the British actually coined the term ???Triad???: ???The name has its origins in the triangular symbols of the different groups, which represent the Chinese belief in a connection between Heaven, Earth and Man.??? As previously stated, The Chinese Triads started off in China, but have since branched out all across the globe with lasting impacts in those regions like the United States for example.[2] Furthermore, the Triads are separated into many smaller groups and are not one big hierarchical organization. To give an example, law enforcement agencies believe there are over fifty groups just in the Hong Kong region alone.[3] The Sun Yee On are the largest in size with over 25,000 members, followed by the Wo group and the 14K. They also have large Triad gangs in Taiwan with the United Bamboo gang contained approximately 20,000 members.[4] Does this signify that the Chinese Triads are a transnational criminal organization I firmly believe that the Triads are a transnational criminal gang, because they are divided into a number of various groups around the world while impacting the individual and state level. Due to the many groups involved, the Triads have clicks set up that conduct their own criminal activities and gain their own profits through the drug trade and prostitution for instance which clearly impacts the individual level. Corrupt politicians, money laundering and business with legitimate enterprises considerably impact the state level. Human trafficking and illegal gambling rings can have consequences on both the individual and state level as another example of the repercussions these illicit groups have in general.

The Chinese Triads have a transnational criminal network that is established through their various subgroups. A major part of their income in the Hong Kong region and its surrounding countries like Taiwan, Thailand, Laos and China come from their drug trafficking rings. The most substantial of which is the heroin trade deriving from all the opium grown in those regions.[5] The drugs will be shipped through Hong Kong which is major international port and will thus be exported to North America for example.[6] This proves that the Chinese Triads have an effect on the global crime scene which makes them a transnational player. Furthermore, if their drugs are making it across borders in such countries like Canada, the United States, Thailand and many others, they have a large impact at the individual level on an international scale. This further proves their presence as a transnational criminal network, because the drugs exported are not only affecting local population, but people half way across the globe. There are criminal gangs affiliated with the Chinese Triads who distribute their drugs. For instance, the Vietnamese criminal groups sell the drugs at the retail level. Wholesaling drugs is bound to have effects on the international level, because the drugs ares smuggled overseas or across borders on land and are ending up in several different countries.[7] The latter is another example that the Chinese Triads have an established transnational criminal network, because they have street gangs in other countries distributing their product and affecting other people. Therefore, problems such as addiction from heroin are felt everywhere and also affect those respective states, because they need to control the illegal drug trade, stop it and deal with the addiction epidemic.

On another note, the Triads operate in secrecy and behind the scenes, therefore at times it does not even seem they are the ones committing the crime. They do not operate as one large hierarchical organization which distributes activities down the pyramid: ???Triad participation in illegal businesses varies from one to another, or even within the same business. Even if triad members are involved in a specific illegal operation, it is not a society business. Instead, it is strictly a private investment. Profits will remain in the hands of the individual members and will not channel up to the triad hierarchy.???[8] Due to the number of various groups, they work on their own and have their own personal networks set up in Thailand and North America for instance. It is important to note this, because this causes major issues at a state level for law enforcement agencies attempting to bring down these criminal groups. It is not like the Italian Mafia where the head of the pyramid can get arrested and weaken the rest of the organization. It is just the opposite, because of the number of various subgroups and personal networks set up all around the world.[9] In essence, at a state level it is very difficult to track down one big criminal or leader and attempt to bring down the entire operation. Moreover, the members of the Chinese Triads always cross the line between legitimate businesses and activities and illicit crimes, which makes it extremely tough for governments and police to keep tabs on individuals; especially if they are acting on their own accord.[10] This can also mean that groups are using legal enterprises in order to hide their profits and launder their money. This affects the state as they now have trouble deciphering what is a legal entity and what is a business operating as a front operation.

A major source of income for these illicit Triad groups is the illegal smuggling of aliens into foreign countries. Illegal immigrants get transported to Western Europe or North America after leaving their country of origin and are forced to join a criminal network if they are not able to pay an estimated smugglers fee of 25,000-30,000 USD. [11]Thus, a lot of Chinese immigrant who left Hong Kong following power being turned back over to China in 1997 were forced to join drug he trafficking ring or in the case of women prostitution rings in order to pay off their debt. This of course is a major problem on both the individual and state level, because illegal workers are participating in illicit activities in foreign countries. The state does not want immigrants being smuggled in to their country in order to become criminals. The Chinese Triads are part of many smuggling operations bringing illegal aliens to western countries. The Triads have numerous ties to other Asian criminal gangs, because they operate on personal networks and do not need to declare profits to the Triad society.[12] This enables them to make connections and thus affiliate themselves with other gangs for jobs whenever need be. Therefore, the process of human trafficking works with smugglers and gangs using their connections and ties in order to work to get illegal immigrants in foreign countries. Transnational criminal gangs operate on these type of networks where they have ties in different countries and can have an impact in states apart from their own. For instance, certain groups of the Chinese Triads are affiliated with the Fuk Ching gang and do smuggle immigrants by working together.[13] These human trafficking rings can at times also smuggle drugs along with the immigrants. Chinese officials are bribed and payed off during a lot of these processes for fake passports and documentation in order to get these people across international borders through the air or by sea. These government officials have a big impact on a transnational scale especially if they work with foreign policies and other states. Since the late 1970s when China began its economic reform they sent a lot of government officials around the world in order to create relationships with many states and open economic partnerships.[14] It is widely known that some of these workers are part of the smuggling process: ???…and in 1995 an immigration officer stationed at the Buenos Aires airport was arrested for aiding Chinese smugglers.???[15]

There is much debate as to whether or not the Chinese Triads are a great threat to as a transnational network. The reason for the arguments is due to the fact they are not one large entity working as a whole unit. They are individual criminal groups, some very large, who operate on their own. Furthermore, it is believed by Asian crime organizations and law enforcement authorities that gangs such as the Chinese Triads, for example, are not involved in transnational crime. They suggest it is more localized and specialized drug trade and the trafficking of people, which is the opposite of Western view.[16] For instance, according to Yiu Kong Chu, there is a script that most Triads, based in Hong Kong, follow. First off, triad members start up a criminal project that makes a lot of money such as an underground gambling ring. They establish floating casinos that needs to move around in order to avoid being busted by the local police and law enforcement agencies. The triad group joins other illicit clans and together they team up and establish the underground casinos.[17] After that, they reach out to legal businesses and attempt to take over a developing marketplace such as residential decorating.[18] Finally, they invest in the entertainment industry by buying clubs and owning restaurants.[19] This essentially shows that the majority of triad members are not interested in working on an international scale, but prefer to do business locally and make their money where they live. Opposed to popular belief, Hong Kong triad members are investing more in local Chinese communities and markets: ??? The main reason
is that there is a huge potential market to make fast money in both legal and illegal businesses since China introduced its Economic Reforms in the late 1970s. Although it is clear that Hong Kong triads have increased their activities in China, particularly in Guangdong Province, we cannot jump to the
conclusion that Hong Kong triads have systematically branched out on the mainland. In many cases, it is individual triad members who take the initiative to enter the Chinese market, and their purposes vary.???[20] Even though there is increased activity on the international scale by Asian gangs, Yiu Kong Chu does not believe they are Chinese Triads.

The Chinese Triads, however, have displayed a strong influence on the international scale and have settled in many countries including Canada and the United States. There was much speculation that prior to 1997, many more would emigrate the Hong Kong region in order to escape the communist government of China right before the power was reverted back to them.[21] Canada became one of the first countries where Triad members would eventually settle and start up their illicit businesses. Vancouver has become one of the major cities where the Triads operate out of Canada and they also become public figures by making donations to charity and having their citizenship approved by government officials.[22] If the Triads have set up post in Canada, for instance, this adds to their transnational network as they have ties with the Western world they can trust. This allows Triad groups from Honk Kong or Taiwan to establish business relationships with these western Triad groups and smuggle their drugs and illegal aliens into Canada. The more they do business the richer and more powerful the Triads in Canada will get, because the drugs and illegal immigrants are constantly filtering through creating a large and steady cash flow which they invest in front businesses and launder their profits. The Chinese Triads are gaining an important place in Canada, especially in Vancouver, where they have bought and are buying an enormous amount of real estate.[23] They arrived in Canada with large financial portfolios are invested in major economic sectors like high-technology.[24] It is believed that using their high profile businessman persona, these high ranking Triad members are influencing the people who run our country; government officials and politicians.[25] The United States also are home to Chinese Triad groups as it was only a matter of time before they migrated there down Canada to establish themselves in a western economical power. The more they disperse all around the world the stronger their transnational criminal network becomes and the tougher it will be for law enforcement agencies to take down the Triads. They will be able to communicate with many Triad members and clans in Western society, therefore if one goes down they will have other options and alternatives to turn to.

In conclusion, the Chinese Triads are a non-hierarchical organized crime group which has major impacts on an international scale through their transnational network. The repercussions of their crime is felt is many countries around the world ranging from Asian countries such a China and Taiwan to Western states like Canada and the United States. Smuggling illegal immigrants and forcing them to work in drug trafficking and prostitution rings has a severe impact at the individual and state level as countries attempt to prevent these illicit activities and people fight off drug addiction and struggle with this lifestyle. The Triads are a transnational organized crime group due to the numerous connections they have established with other Triad groups and Asian affiliated gangs posted in different countries. This criminal organization has a hand in legitimate businesses and have corrupt politicians helping them continue and strive in illegal activities. In essence, the Chinese Triads have greatly evolved since their formation and have branched out in a number of different illegal and legal sectors in order to expand become one the largest transnational criminal organizations in the world today.

Bibliography

1. Finckenauer, J., & Chin, K. (2006). Asian transnational organized crime and its impact on the United States: Developing a transnational crime research agenda. Trends in Organized Crime, 10(2), 18-107. doi:10.1007/s12117-006-1034-3

2.Harder, J. D. (2000). Canada Targeted by China Agents. Insight on the News, 16(47), 20. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

3. Kyle, D, & Koslowski, Rey. (2001). Global human smuggling. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press

4.Overholt, A. (1995). Vanishing borders: The expansion of Asian organized crime. Harvard International Review, 17(2), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

5.Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.

6. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

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———————————
[ 1 ]. Overholt, A. (1995). Vanishing borders: The expansion of Asian organized crime.? Harvard International Review, 17(2), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 2 ]. Overholt, A. (1995). Vanishing borders: The expansion of Asian organized crime. Harvard International Review, 17(2), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 3 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 4 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 5 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 6 ]. Finckenauer, J., & Chin, K. (2006). Asian transnational organized crime and its impact on the United States: Developing a transnational crime research agenda. Trends in Organized Crime, 10(2), 18-107. doi:10.1007/s12117-006-1034-3
[ 7 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 8 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 9 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 10 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 11 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 12 ]. Williams, P. (Ed.). (1999). International Security Management and The United Nations. Tokyo: The United Nations University.
[ 13 ]. Kyle, D, & Koslowski, Rey. (2001). Global human smuggling. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press
[ 14 ]. Kyle, D, & Koslowski, Rey. (2001). Global human smuggling. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press
[ 15 ]. Kyle, D, & Koslowski, Rey. (2001). Global human smuggling. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press
[ 16 ]. Finckenauer, J., & Chin, K. (2006). Asian transnational organized crime and its impact on the United States: Developing a transnational crime research agenda. Trends in Organized Crime, 10(2), 18-107. doi:10.1007/s12117-006-1034-3
[ 17 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 18 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 19 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 20 ]. Yiu Kong, C. (2005). HONG KONG TRIADS AFTER 1997. Trends in Organized Crime, 8(3), 5-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
[ 21 ]. Overholt, A. (1995). Vanishing borders: The expansion of Asian organized crime. Harvard International Review, 17(2), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 22 ]. Overholt, A. (1995). Vanishing borders: The expansion of Asian organized crime. Harvard International Review, 17(2), 42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 23 ]. Harder, J. D. (2000). Canada Targeted by China Agents. Insight on the News, 16(47), 20. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 24 ]. Harder, J. D. (2000). Canada Targeted by China Agents. Insight on the News, 16(47), 20. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
[ 25 ]. Harder, J. D. (2000). Canada Targeted by China Agents. Insight on the News, 16(47), 20. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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