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Long Before Leland Yee Arrest, San Francisco’s Chinatown Has Storied History Of Gang Activity

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The wide-reaching criminal case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation involving State Senator Leland Yee details his alleged involvement with an organized crime syndicate headquartered in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The lengthy FBI affidavit connects Yee to Chinatown’s Hop Sing Boys gang, and its leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, with allegations that money from firearms, drug trafficking and other illegal activities were being funneled into his political accounts.

Bill Lee, who in the 1970s was heavily involved in Hop Sing’s rival, the Joe Boys gang, and went on to write an expose, “Chinese Playground: A Memoir” said it was like the wild wild west back then.

“Even in recent years, there’s still been criminal activity, arrests and convictions relating to gambling and extortion in Chinatown,” he said.

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Lee said politics is often tied to this type of criminal activity because of the money involved.

But San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose district includes Chinatown, said no community should be defined by a handful of individuals.

“Last year, Chinatown was named one of the top ten neighborhoods in the entire country,” Chiu said. “There is so much that has been going well and this really did come as a shock to so many of the residents in our city and within my district.”

Although it is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to San Francisco, investigators said Chow was leading one of the most powerful Asian gangs in North America in the heart of Chinatown.

He had previously served time in prison and was affiliated with the Hong Kong-based triad Wo Hop To.

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