Transnational Gangs In Asia

Owing to its proximity to the Golden Triangle as well as its extremely advanced communication plus transport links with the rest of the world, Hong Kong has long been regarded through Western law enforcement agencies as one of the foremost heroin trafficking centers. It is believed that Hong Kong triads use their extensive international networks to arrange for large amounts of heroin from the Golden Triangle to be moved to Hong Kong, and then have it smuggled into North America, Europe, as well as Australia through a number of innovative methods.

After the drugs successfully arrive in consumer countries, profits are channeled back to Hong Kong for money laundering. As Sen. (1991: 247) writes: “it [Hong Kong] is the centre of the Chinese Mafia organized crime groups engaged in running the smuggling networks as well as laundering profits from the illicit trade.” Are Hong Kong triads really dominant the heroin trade from the Golden Triangle to Western countries? Although the Chinese have been involved in smuggling small quantities of heroin into the America for a long time, until 1986 the heroin importation plus wholesale business was generally dominated by Italian crime groups.

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The famous French Connection case in the 1960s demonstrated that Italian criminals were actively involved in importing large amounts of heroin from Southwest Asia into the USA via Europe . From 1986 onwards, however, the heroin trade began to move into the hands of Chinese traffickers, and American law enforcement agencies assert that triads, mainly those based in Hong Kong, are taking over from the Italian mafia as the biggest supplier of heroin in their country (Chin 1990: 148).

The Triad is among the many secret Chinese societies formed originally as a resistance movement to the Ch’ing Dynasty that ruled China from the early seventeenth century to 1911.

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