Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian gangs represent the bulk of the Asian criminal street gang problem in California. It was not until the late 1970s that Vietnamese gangs began to emerge, followed by Laotian and Cambodian gangs in the early 1980s.
These gangs ranged in size from 5 to 200 gang members; and their crimes included residential and business robberies, auto thefts, and burglaries. Rarely were they involved in drive-by shootings. The gang members varied in age from 15- to 25-years-old, a nd the older gang members were usually the leaders.
Early formation of Asian gangs was loose-knit, and the gang members did not associate with each other on a continuous basis. They had little, if any, loyalty to a particular gang. Unlike Hispanic and African American gangs, Asian. gangs began with no un ique Characteristics such as tattoos, hand signs, or graffiti. They had no names for their gangs, nor were they organized or turf oriented. There were no female Asian gangs and few female Asian gang members.
By 1985, the Vietnamese gangs were committing organized auto thefts, extortions, firearms violations, home-invasion robberies, witness intimidations, assaults, and murders. They frequently used some type of weapon during the commission of their crimes. Vietnamese gang members began targeting their own communities with ruthless and vicious crimes and would often travel to various Vietnamese communities throughout the country to commit these crimes.
The Laotian and Cambodian gangs remained predatory. They became turf oriented, and their crimes were random property crimes--usually involving some form of robbery or burglary.