Inside the Chinatown Gang That 'Lured' Leland Yee into Arms Trafficking

Inside the Chinatown Gang That 'Lured' Leland Yee into Arms Trafficking

California state Senator Leland Yee (D), who was indicted on charges of arms trafficking and public corruption, was allegedly lured into these crimes by a gang led by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, described as “the dragonhead” for “one of the most powerful Asian gangs in America.”

According to the Associated Press, Chow’s gang allegedly “lured state Sen. Leland Yee into its clutches through money and campaign contributions in exchange for legislative help.” The offers of money came at a time when Yee sought to amass the finances necessary to launch a campaign to become California’s secretary of state.

Chow was born in Hong Kong in 1960. He moved to the United States at age 16, dropped out of high school, and “rose within the ranks of the local Hop Sing Tong after he and his crew survived a 1977 shooting at a Chinatown restaurant that left five dead and about a dozen injured.”

He did time in San Quentin Prison for a robbery conviction: After his release, [he] started working with the Hong Kong-based Wo Hop To triad, one of numerous Chinese underground societies linked to organized crime.” 

Furthermore, “he ran prostitution rings, smuggled drugs, and extorted thousands of dollars from business owners in the 1980s.” 

Chow was convicted “of gun charges and sentenced to 25 years to life in the 1990s,” but he negotiated an agreement that secured his release. Many years ago, he went back to Chinatown and began to work with “at-risk youth.”

When Chow’s office was raided on March 26th–the same day charges against Yee were revealed–Chow was accused of exploiting his leadership role in the youth-focused organization “to launder money, receive and transport stolen property, and traffic in contraband stolen cigarettes.”

“In handcuffs and shackles,” Chow showed up in federal court on Friday, March 28th. He “did not enter a plea, and the hearing was continued until Monday.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.  Reach him directly at