14K Triad

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14K Triad
Founded 1945
Founded by Kot Siu-wong
Founding location Guangzhou, China
Years active 1945–present
Territory Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, and Chinese communities globally
Ethnicity Chinese
Membership (est.) 20,000[1]
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, counterfeiting, illegal gambling, bookmaking, arms trafficking, arson, fraud, prostitution, human trafficking, identity theft, money laundering, extortion, murder, illegal immigration, kidnapping, hacking, racketeering, home invasion robberies[2]
Allies
Rivals

The 14K (十四K) is a triad group based in Hong Kong but active internationally. It is the second largest triad group in the world with around 20,000 members split into thirty subgroups. They are the main rival of the Sun Yee On, which is the largest triad.[4]

Criminal focus[edit]

The 14K is responsible for large-scale drug trafficking around the world, most of it heroin and opium from China or Southeast Asia. This is their primary business in terms of generating income, but they are also involved in illegal gambling, loan sharking, money laundering, murder, arms trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, extortion, counterfeiting and, to a lesser extent, home invasion robberies.[5][6]

History[edit]

The 14K was formed by Kuomintang Lieutenant-General Kot Siu-wong in Guangzhou, China in 1945 as an anti-Communist action group.[7] However, the group relocated to Hong Kong in 1949 when the Kuomintang fled from the Communists following the Chinese Civil War.[8] Originally there were fourteen members who were part of the Kuomintang, hence the name 14K. However, some[who?] say that 14 stands for the road number of a former headquarters and K stands for Kowloon.[9]

Compared with other triad societies, the 14K is one of the largest and most violent Hong Kong-based triad societies, and its members appear to be more loosely connected. 14K factional violence is actually out of control because no dragonhead is able to govern all factions of 14K worldwide.[10]

While Hong Kong's 14K triad gang dominates its traditional areas of operation and has expanded far beyond the former British colony, its focus remains Sinocentric. Hong Kong triads, including the 14K, have also expanded their activities in mainland China; a key motivation for members to cross into China is to avoid police security and anti-gang crackdowns in Hong Kong.[10][11]

In 1997, there were a number of gang-related attacks that left 14 people dead. Under Wan Kuok-koi (nicknamed "Broken Tooth Koi", 崩牙駒), the 14K was being challenged by the smaller Shui Fong Triad. The next year, a gunman believed to be connected to the local 14K killed a Portuguese national and wounded another at a sidewalk café in Macau. In 1999, a Portuguese court convicted 45-year-old mob boss Broken Tooth Koi on various criminal charges and sentenced him to 15 years' imprisonment. His 14K gang was suspected of drive-by shootings, car bombings and attempted assassinations. Seven of his associates received lesser sentences. Since the crackdown in Macau, the 14K triad resurfaced in various cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago in the United States; Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto in Canada; Sydney in Australia; and also the UK.[12]

International activity[edit]

Africa[edit]

South Africa[edit]

The 14K is one of seven Chinese criminal organizations operating in South Africa, represented in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, where it is involved in extortion and abalone trafficking (in 2000, the estimated gross income from the illegal exportation of abalone to Hong Kong was US$32 million).[13]

Asia[edit]

Japan[edit]

The National Police Agency stated in 1997 that the 14K had been expanding its operations in Japan since the 1980s and had branches in Fukuoka, Osaka, Sapporo and Tokyo, each with at least 1,000 members. The 14K in Japan has been involved in counterfeiting credit cards and has cooperated with yakuza groups in the importation large numbers of illegal Chinese migrants.[13]

Myanmar[edit]

The 14K Triad operating from Mong Nawng, near the border with China, has established a working relationship with the United Wa State Army in the sale and smuggling of heroin into China and Thailand. The 14K has also trafficked Burmese heroin to Australia.[13]

Philippines[edit]

The 14K has been involved in smuggling arms to Abu Sayyaf and has also reportedly cooperated with the Islamic group in laundering and transmitting ransom money, taking a percentage of the ransoms in exchange for their assistance.[13]

Thailand[edit]

The 14K is the largest Chinese crime syndicate operating in Thailand. A haul of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of heroin bound for the United States confiscated during an operation in Bangkok in January 2000 was attributed to the 14K. In addition to heroin, the 14K is also involved in the smuggling and sale of the amphetamine ya ba; using Bangkok as a commercial and trafficking base, they transport and distribute the Burmese-manufactured drug to the Thai narcotics industry. The influx of other Chinese gangs and syndicates into Thailand has led to a series of turf wars between the 14K and smaller rival groups, fighting over territory in both Thailand and sections of neighboring Cambodia.[13]

Europe[edit]

Belgium and the Netherlands[edit]

The 14K Triad has been active in the Netherlands since as early as the 1970s, when members of the gang controlled Chinese restaurants in numerous cities in the country.[14] Dutch police authorities believe that the 14K took full control of heroin importation into the Benelux countries in 1987. The line established by the 14K is a direct connection with Hong Kong via Bangkok, the chief transit point. In the Netherlands, the 14K is divided into seven-to-ten-person cells (mainly in Amsterdam) that function as relay posts for moving heroin elsewhere in Europe. However, authorities believe that Belgium now plays an equally important role; heroin laboratories that were discovered in the Netherlands have been reassembled in Flanders, with strong bases in Brussels and Antwerp. A foothold in Belgium also has brought the narcotics traffickers closer to the money-laundering banks of Luxembourg. In 1998, the chief of Belgium’s security agency stated of Chinese criminal organizations in the country: “They include several hundred Asiatics and have a strong familial characteristic. Their activities are very diverse, also including [besides narcotics] gambling and illegal workshops. They also are developing money laundering, both small-scale (restaurants, etc.) and large-scale such as real estate and even industrial projects.” For example, the 14K controls illegal gambling casinos in Antwerp. Belgium and the Netherlands form two corners of a triangular narcotics route of the 14K Triad; the third corner is Paris.[13]

France[edit]

The 14K is among the leading triads in France, where it has cooperated with Turkish, Albanian and Nigerian crime groups in heroin trafficking.[15]

Ireland[edit]

The first reported triad activity in Ireland came in July 1979 when the 14K attempted a takeover of a Dublin-based Chinese gang's protection rackets which led to a deadly gang fight resulting in two deaths. Tony Lee, allegedly a high ranking member of the 14K's Cork branch, was killed along with Michael Tsin of the rival Dublin faction.[16] In August 1983, twelve members of the 14K were arrested in Limerick in connection with attempting to extort money from the owners of Chinese restaurant in the city. Nine of the men were believed to have come over from the UK. During the operation, a hoard of weapons including knifes, pickaxes, bars and clubs were found.[17] The 14K and other triads gained a firm foothold in Ireland in the 1980s when large numbers of Chinese restaurants opened in Cork and Dublin.[13]

Leaked diplomatic cables obtained by the Irish Independent in 2011 included intelligence reports by the Garda Síochána (Irish police) on Chinese organized crime in the country, specifically the activities of the 14K and their rival Wo Shing Wo. The reported criminal activities of the triads included the trafficking of women and children from China into Ireland, involvement in casinos, and money laundering. Gardaí also reported a great deal of interaction between the Chinese gangs operating in Ireland and Scotland.[18]

Spain[edit]

The 14K has a branch in Spain, operating from Madrid.[19]

United Kingdom[edit]

The 14K was the first triad society to arrive in the United Kingdom, emerging from the Chinese communities of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester during the post-war period. Although nearly all triad groups operating in the UK at the time were affiliated with the 14K, each operated independently of the Hong Kong 14K and generally viewed each other as rivals. Other triad societies did not arrive in the country until 1964 when the Labour Party encouraged large-scale immigration, bringing a huge influx of Hong Kong diaspora.[20]

While active predominantly in Birmingham and the north of England[21], the 14K also has a strong presence in London where they have been involved in turf wars with their rival Wo Shing Wo as well as Fujianese snakehead gangs.[22] On 3 June 2003, alleged 14K member You Yi He, who was the subject of a police investigation into people-smuggling at the time of his death, was shot and killed in London's Chinatown.[23][24]

North America[edit]

Canada[edit]

The 14K has been among the most active triad societies in Canada,[13] maintaining a chapter in Toronto.[25] Initially, the group was made up of members from Hong Kong but later recruited from the Vietnamese community, while also absorbing the remnants of the defunct Ghost Shadows. In 1988, the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) estimated the number of members in the 14K's Toronto branch at 150, with around 40 criminally active in heroin trafficking, migrant smuggling, theft and extortion.[26]

Mexico[edit]

Intelligence reports from the Attorney General of Mexico and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have indicated that the 14K Triad is among the suppliers of raw materials used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine to the Sinaloa Cartel.[27]

United States[edit]

The 14K has a presence in New York, California, Chicago, Boston and Houston.[13]

High-ranking 14K member Hui Sin Ma aka Frank Ma, who was born in China but illegally immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s, began his criminal career in Boston and San Francisco before eventually settling in Queens, New York where he became associated with the On Leong Tong and their youth gang the Ghost Shadows, as well as the Hip Sing Tong along with their youth gang the Flying Dragons. In Queens, he oversaw heroin dealing, illegal gambling, a luxury car-theft ring, extortion rackets and immigrant smuggling. Ma ordered numerous killings to protect his criminal enterprise. In 1996, he fled to China to avoid detection by police, but later returned to the U.S. and was arrested in 2003. In 2010, he was convicted of murder and narcotics charges and sentenced to life in prison. Frank Ma was described by law enforcement as “one of the last of the Asian godfathers.”[28]

Oceania[edit]

Australia[edit]

The 14K are is among the main groups responsible for heroin trafficking in Australia.[13]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand police have stated that the 14K is the most powerful Asian crime syndicate operating in the country, where they are involved in the importation of pseudoephedrine (a chemical precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine) from Hong Kong and mainland China which they sell to local drug trafficking gangs, the Head Hunters and the Hells Angels.[29]

In August 2008, the 14K was allegedly involved in a high-profile kidnapping of a Chinese family near Papatoetoe, Auckland. The plan was to demand a ransom, but they were found before the money was paid.[30]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Illuminated Lantern: Triads
  2. ^ "Cracking down on the triads". BBC News. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Asian Street Gangs and Organized Crime in Focus". ipsn.org. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  4. ^ Annie Le Blanc. "Chinese Triads". Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  5. ^ Annie Le Blanc. "Chinese Triads Part 2". Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ Annie Le Blanc. "Chinese Triads Part 3". Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ "14 K Triad | Terrorist Groups | TRAC". trackingterrorism.org. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  8. ^ Shanty, Frank; Mishra, Patit Paban Organized crime: from trafficking to terrorism, pg xvi, Volume 2. ISBN 1-57607-337-8 ABC-CLIO (24 September 2007)
  9. ^ Triads and organized crime in China Archived 12 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Peng Wang, "Divide and conquer – Factionalised triad gang spreads its wings", Jane's intelligence Review, 23. no.11 (2011): 46–49
  11. ^ Varese, Federico (2011). Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories. Princeton University Press.
  12. ^ "The Origin of Asian and Chinese Gangs in Chicago's Chinatown (Page 4)". gangresearch.net. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Berry, LaVerle B.; Curtis, Glenn E.; Elan, Seth L.; Hudson, Rexford A.; Kollars, Nina A. (April 2003). "Transnational activities of Chinese crime organizations" (PDF). Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 October 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ Asian organized crime in the European Union
  15. ^ Asian organized crime in the European Union
  16. ^ The night the bloody Triad wars erupted on the streets of Dublin
  17. ^ The Triad Gang War of Dublin in 1979
  18. ^ Chinese Triad gangs trafficking women into Ireland for sex industry – cables
  19. ^ Asian organized crime in the European Union
  20. ^ Gangland UK
  21. ^ Triad link to Essex murder
  22. ^ Terror of the triads
  23. ^ Chinatown shooting 'gangs link'
  24. ^ Triads 'infiltrate' Soho casino
  25. ^ ASIAN ORGANIZED CRIME AND TERRORIST ACTIVITY IN CANADA, 1999-2002
  26. ^ Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada
  27. ^ Hong Kong triads supply meth ingredients to Mexican drug cartels
  28. ^ The Last of the Asian Godfathers
  29. ^ Asian drug links reach south with meth deals
  30. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne (17 August 2008). "Xin Xin's family flee over Triad gang threat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 September 2011.