Some Asian gang members are being recruited by Asian organized crime groups, and some gangs--especially a few of the Vietnamese, Crips, and Bloods gangs--could evolve into organized crime groups as defined in California Penal Code Section 186.2(d):
"Organized crime means crime which is of a conspiratorial and (1) organized nature and which seeks to supply illegal goods and services such as narcotics, prostitution, loan sharking, gambling, and pornography or, (2) through planning and coor dination of individual efforts, to conduct the illegal activities of arson for profit, hijacking, insurance fraud, smuggling, operating vehicle theft rings, or systematically encumbering the assets of a business for the purpose of defrauding creditors."

Some of the Vietnamese, Crips, and Bloods gang members are learning the benefits of being a structured gang and becoming organized and clandestine in their criminal activities. For the most part, Hispanic gangs and white gangs do not fit the organized cr ime definition, with the exception of white outlaw motorcycle gang members who are heavily involved in illicit methamphetamine production.

The national distribution of crack cocaine by the Crips and Bloods has earned gang members an enormous amount of money. Their need to launder the money is creating a situation where gang members will begin to purchase legitimate businesses to disguise the profits earned from their criminal enterprises.

The recruitment of some Asian gang members into Asian organized crime groups, such as the Wo Hop To Triad and the Wah Ching, could contribute to the gangs' evolution into organized crime. Some of the Asian gangs' extortion and protection rackets are remi niscent of the Mafia during the 1940s and 1950s.

The Wah Ching exemplifies the ability of a gang to evolve into a formidable organized crime group. From its origin in 1966 as a street gang, the Wah Ching has developed into a sophisticated criminal organization, with multi-international crime connection s. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Wah Ching became an organization that controlled most of the criminal vices in San Francisco's Chinatown and Los Angeles' Chinese communities. During that time, there may have been as many as 200 Wah Ching members and 500 criminal associates in California. Although primarily headquartered in San Francisco, they have developed strong associations with Asian organized crime groups and gang members in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Boston, and New York--along with close ties to the Sun Yee On and the 14K Triads in Hong Kong.

Typical criminal activities of the Wah Ching include extortion, burglary, gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics trafficking, robbery, and murder. Their operations now include legitimate businesses including real estate investments, jewelry sto res, restaurants, nightclubs, travel agencies, and the entertainment industry.

The dominant position of the Wah Ching has not been seriously challenged until recently. Members of a rival criminal organization known as the Wo Hop To Triad from Hong Kong have been moving into the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989. This movement by t he Wo Hop To is an attempt to gain control over the criminal vices by the various Asian organized criminal groups and gangs in the Bay Area under one umbrella organization. Most of the Wah Ching members and associates have been consolidated into the Wo H op To. As a result of this consolidation effort, there have been five murders involving Asian organized crime and/or gang members--including the leader of the Hung Pho, a violent Asian gang.