Back in the 80s and 90s Asian gangs ran the rackets in China Town with a lot of organization. A couple of asian gangs that come to mind were the Wah Ching, and the Black Dragon Gang. The 2 gangs held a monopoly at one point in gang history, but have slowly started to fade away as time passed.
Lets take a look at this once feared gang, and how they ruled the streets of LA’s Chinatown.
History of the Black Dragons
Like many ethnic gangs, the Black Dragons were formed to protect gang members from other gangs in the area. The Black Dragons were formed by Chinese immigrants in the Lincoln Heights area in Los Angeles, California in 1980.
The first members of the BDG joined together to protect each other from Asian Gangs and Latino gangs in the area.
The gang would operate in Los Angeles, as well as the San Gabriel Valley for the next 20 years until their slow decline due to law enforcement.
In the earlier days around the 1960s, Chinese Tongs would rule the chinatowns in their respective cities. The Tongs would use street gangs as muscle to control the shops and streets.
In LA, the Black Dragon Gang had a heavy presence in LA’s Chinatown, as well as parts of the San Gabriel Valley. They were known for extorting restaurants, and shops as a means of income. They would also tax the illegal businesses like gambling dens and brothels.
The gang was even involved in money laundering, drug trafficking and counterfeiting merchandise as part of their gang income. But they would also involve themselves in typical gang crimes like murder, robbery, home invasion and thefts.
The gang would grow its strength throughout the years and would focus more on income more than rivalries with other gangs, but from time to time they would have altercations with rivals.
Bringing down the Dragon Head
In 2005 the Black Dragons suffered a huge loss when three of their top shot callers were sentenced to more than 24 years in prison for attempted murder.
To take down the gang, law enforcement used informants from inside the gang.
These types of people are considered “rats” or “snitches” and if gang members find out that you have snitched, it is usually followed by death.
Before this, law enforcement was finding it difficult to pin anything on the BDG
Investigators who were looking into crime around Chinatown reported lack of evidence for crimes, this was due to the fact most Chinese did not cooperate with law enforcement at the time. Which made it hard for police to go after the gangs.
Once the gang task force was able to penetrate the gang, is when they were able to arrest and convict.
At the end of their operation, they were able to arrest 3 Black Dragon leaders. The 3 gang members were convicted of extortion and racketeering.
With the gangs leadership behind bars, the Black Dragon started to crumble. Although there are still active members, they remain low key.