Sunday, 12 September 2010
CASE 053 - The Triads
Triads (simplified Chinese: 三合会; traditional Chinese: 三合會; pinyin: Sānhéhuì; literally "Triad Society") is a term used to describe many branches of Chinese criminal organizations based in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, and also in countries with significant Chinese populations, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States and Canada.
Triad activities include crimes such as Arson, assault, bank fraud, bombings, bookmaking, bribery, car bombings, car theft, cheque fraud, Cell phone fraud, chop shop, contract killing, cottaging, Counterfeit money, drive by shooting, drug trafficking, extortion, Fencing, home invasions, Hostage taking, Human trafficking, Identity document forgery, identity fraud, identity theft, Illegal emigration, illegal gambling, illegal immigration, interstate and foreign transport of stolen property, kidnapping, loan sharking, Mail fraud, Manslaughter, Match fixing, money laundering, murder, passport fraud, people smuggling, police corruption, Political corruption, prostitution, Robbery, Software Piracy, trafficking in stolen cars and car parts, Visa fraud, Welfare fraud, and other forms of racketeering. In the present day, major sources of triad incomes include counterfeiting of copyrighted and trademarked goods, such as clothing, computer software, watches, handbags, pirated music CDs and film VCDs/DVDs. Triads are also known to trade in animal parts of endangered species, such as sharks, as well as smuggling tobacco and alcohol products. Some Hong Kong triads have their own armed forces like international drug cartels, maintaining and protecting vital resources such as stockpiles of cash, drug products and ammunition. Like the Mafia, triads usually limit violence to within their own community rather than on the public. There is no leading figure in the Hong Kong triads to control all other members in illegal activities via a hierarchy structure. Instead, they are split into several independent groups and may not function under an absolute and strict dominion-and-compliance plan. For example, the King Yee is a subsidiary branch of Sun Yee On, but members of King Yee do not take orders from their "superiors". The actual power of the triads lies at the ground level of the hierarchy. Usually, a triad "official" ("Red Pole") leads a group of 15 active members (aka "soldiers") and engages in aggressive activities on their "turf". A leader with apparent hegemony may not be able to command other leaders and internal conflict may arise when the groups fight each other to seize greater benefits. Triads also use numeric codes to distinguish between ranks and positions within the gang. For example, "426" refers to "fighter" while "49" denotes a rank-and-file member. "489" refers to the "mountain master" while 438 is used for the "deputy mountain master", 415 for "white paper fan" and 432 for the "straw sandal". "25" refers to an undercover law enforcement agent or spy from another triad, and has become popularly used in Hong Kong as a slang for "traitor".
As the Hong Kong economy flourishes, triads barely provide "satisfying" social and pecuniary conditions to foster absolute loyalty among its members. One consequence of this is that the current triad structure has become more flexible; the customary eight-ranking system has changed into a four-ranks one, as illustrated in the diagram below. The sophisticated initiation ritual for new members has been simplified into a common practice of "hanging the Blue Lantern", an oral agreement (like a spoken oath) with little formality. The degree of autocracy within the triad has also decreased as members have higher tendency to prioritize their personal interests, with greater freedom in switching from one group to another without showing regard for the traditional founding principles.
1. In 1903, Dr. SUN YAT SEN, leader of the Republican Party, joined the ‘KWOK ON WUI ‘ NATIONAL STABILITY SOCIETY’ in Honolulu and was immediately promoted to the official rank of HUNG KWAN ‘RED POLE (or FIGHTER).
2. Dr. SUN then formed other society tied to these patriotic organizations and finally the Prosperity of China Society which was eventually changed to National People’s Party.
3. He traveled extensively in America and Asia to obtain support for the rebellion and in 1911 ordered the revolution which led to the overthrow of the CHING Dynasty a year later.
There are 4 basic ranks in the Triad Society:
a. Hung Kwan – ‘Red Pole’ (Fighter Official)
b.Pak Tsz Sin – ‘White Paper Fan’ (Advisor Official)
c. Cho Hai – ‘Grass Sandal’ (Messenger Official)
d. Sze Kau – ‘49’ (Ordinary Member)