The Department of Justice estimates there could be as many as 15,000 Asian gang members in California today. They are still principally representative of Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian gangs; and their gang members vary in age from 13- to 35-years-ol d. They continue to terrorize and prey upon their communities with violent crimes, occasionally resulting in murders. They have increased their traveling patterns from coast to coast committing these crimes. Their growing level of mobility and violence has made them a national crime problem. Many of the Asian gangs have begun to emulate other ethnic gangs; and they are adopting certain gang characteristics such as gang names, hand signs, tattoos, and graffiti. Asian gangs--with names such as the Street Killer Boys, Tiny Rascal Gangsters, Bla ck Dragons, and Natoma Boys--are becoming widespread. Some Asian gangs are naming themselves after the Crips and Bloods gangs. There are Asian Westside Crips, Northside Crips, and Hillside Crips in Modesto. Fresno has the Asian Crips and Asian Bloods, and Long Beach has the Cambodian Crips.
The Vietnamese gangs are not turf oriented or loyal to one neighborhood; instead, they are often comprised of gang members from several locations. The Santa Ana Boys have members in San Diego, Los Angeles, Westminster, Garden Grove, Anaheim, Riverside, a nd Pomona. The Laotian and Cambodian gangs remain territorial.
A few of the Asian gangs have recruited female gang members who carry weapons for male gang members and assist male gang members in committing crimes, such as homeinvasion robberies. Some of the female gang members have formed their own gangs and operate independently of their male counterparts. In Orange County, female gangs--such as the Wally Girls, Pomona Girls, and Dirty Punks--average 20 to 50 members between 13- to 20-years-old. Each female gang is allied with one or more male gang such as the Sa nta Ana Boys or Cheap Boys. Several of the female gang members have been arrested for auto burglary, shoplifting, and petty theft.
One of the most frightening aspects of Asian gangs is their brutal home-invasion robberies. In a typical home invasion, gang members enter a home, tie up the inhabitants, then terrorize, torture, beat, rob, and--at times--kill them. More than 300 such r obberies were reported in California last year, and the attacks are becoming more widespread and violent. Many Asian gang-related crimes go unreported because of the victims' fear of revenge from the gang members. For each reported robbery, experts beli eve there may be as many as three to five robberies going unreported.
In 1991, there were three to five home-invasion robberies reported each month in Orange County. Thirty such robberies were reported in San Jose during a three-month period. Thirty-two were reported in Sacramento; 25 in Oakland; and 12 in San Francisco f or the entire year.
Other crimes--which include robberies, burglaries, auto thefts, and extortions--are often marked with extreme violence. Many of them are conducted with precision, suggesting some form of structure, organization, and planning.
In 1990, a Vietnamese gang in the San Gabriel Valley was linked to at least 30 crimes--including residential and business robberies and extortion. Thirty-two suspected gang members--some of whom were members of the Black Dragon gang, including five femal e gang associates--were arrested for these crimes.
The Natoma Boys, whose members ranged from 16- to 23-years-old, were responsible for more than 40 crimes in Cerritos and Lakewood during a 4-month period in 1990. The gang netted $1 million in stolen property from car burglaries, robberies, and auto thef ts throughout Southern California. This gang had more than 150 members operating in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
Extortion of Asian business owners is a principal Vietnamese gang crime since many of the extortion victims fear to report the crime. Gang members engage in burglarizing, ransacking, or vandalizing businesses and then demand payment as insurance against further trouble; and others have extorted protection money from business owners by threatening to kill them and their families.
Auto thefts by these gang members are on the increase, and it is not uncommon for a gang member to be arrested for auto theft and have in his possession an altered ignition key used to start the stolen vehicle. Often, the vehicles are stolen and used dur ing the commission of a crime, then later abandoned.
Violence by Asian gangs continues to increase. They have threatened to kill and have shot at police officers. Turf-related gang wars between some Asian gangs and other ethnic gangs are occurring. Their weapons of choice are handguns, rifles, and automa tic or semiautomatic firearms; and they show little or no remorse for the victims of their violence.
As indicated earlier in this report, the Tiny Rascal Gangsters--a Cambodian gang located in Long Beach and in several other parts of the state--are involved in a gang war with the Eastside Longos--a Hispanic gang, also located in Long Beach. Drive-by sho otings and assaults by these two gangs resulted in nine killings during 1991.
Some of the Vietnamese gang members are being recruited by Asian organized crime groups such as the Wah Ching and the Wo Hop To Triad in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. The Wah Ching is a Chinese criminal organization involved in murder, extorti on, prostitution, robbery, gambling, and loan sharking. They are also suspected of narcotics trafficking. The Wo Hop To Triad is a long-standing criminal organization that originated in Hong Kong. They began immigrating to the United States--particular ly California--during the mid-1980s; and they have a long history of involvement in illegal gambling, prostitution, narcotics trafficking, and extortion.
The Wo Hop To is attempting to consolidate its power by aligning various Asian organized crime groups and gangs, including Vietnamese gang members, under one umbrella organization. Since April 1990, five murders involving Asian organized crime and/or gan g members have occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area as a result of this consolidation effort.