|Founding location||Long Beach / Los Angeles, California, United States.|
|Territory||Active in 14 U.S. states (2009)|
|Ethnicity||Of Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Filipino.|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and homicide|
|Rivals||Tiny Rascal Gang Valerio Street Gang, East Side Longos, Bloods, Sureños, Wah Ching, Lower East Side, Viet Boyz|
The Asian Boyz, also known as ABZ or AB-26, are a street gang based in Southern California. They were founded in the 1970s as part of efforts of protection for Southeast Asian immigrants and refugees from the more numerous American gangs in their localities. According to the FBI, the gang is predominantly Southeast Asian-American, of which Cambodians account for their majority, while Filipinos, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians comprise sizable numbers. With approximately 2,000 members, many are known to have enlisted in the U.S. military through which some were able to use their position to traffic drugs. According to the FBI's 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, the Asian Boyz are active in 28 different cities, in 14 different states across the U.S. Their motto is "1226" which can mean "1 Life 2 Live, 26 to Die" or "1 Life 2 Live, 2 6icc to die", and the 1st, 2nd and 26th letters of the alphabet, which spells out ABZ.
The end of the Korean War, Vietnam War and the "Secret Wars" resulted in a new wave of Asian immigrants to America, many of whom were refugees from war-torn countries escaping the brutal political conditions their generations were faced with for most of the late 20th century. Upon being forced to retreat from their home countries, many of these refugee groups emigrated overseas, the larger numbers of whom were admitted into the U.S. and Canada where they would continue on to battle newer adversities related to poverty, racism and oppression; in addition to numerous other socio-economic hardships. Mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression were few of many issues affecting their families and communities.
Most refugees from Southeast Asia were admitted into the U.S. between 1979 and 1991, within this time, Cambodian-Americans especially were resettled in inner-city neighborhoods, which were, arguably, underprivileged and ridden with high crime rates and gang activity; two environmental circumstances which led to various counter initiatives such as the formation of gangs amongst their youth. In hindsight, Southeast Asian immigrants often found their new environments difficult to adjust to, and is often accounted to their distinctiveness in culture, language, ethnicities and other characteristics. Unemployment was a major issue affecting the Southeast Asian communities, while their youth constantly struggled in the school system. Environmental factors had especially taken its toll on the youth, most of whom were faced with harassment, extortion and discrimination related to racism, life-threatening dangers and whose experiences were more or less inflicted by those of other Asian communities, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans.
In the 1970s, the Asian Boyz gang was formed by a group of schoolmates, including Filipino brothers named Marvin Mercado and Pierre Mercado in Southern California, as part of an effort to protect themselves from the more numerous pre-existing gangs situated in their respective neighborhoods. Controversy lies mostly around the official origin of the gang, as it was a unification of multiple gangs or founding gangsters rather than the formation of one. Their identity also attracts notable controversy, being that the Cambodian sets are notoriously influential and decorated as their own faction of Crips that is, among other things, racially or ethnically distinct.
Although the Asian Boyz gang comprise their own identity as an organization, the identity itself is largely interpreted as an umbrella of individual Crip gangs or "sets"; hence their alternative monikers "Asian Crips" and "Asian Boyz Crip". Though the relationships between these individual sets are unclear, the various Southeast Asian members tend to work with people of their own national, ethnic or cultural background. More recent publications (since 2011) have revealed even more information about the gang, notable details include the alliance of a number of gangs based in Long Beach, California referred to as SEAs, an abbreviation of Suicidal Town, Exotic Family City Crip and Asian boyz.
In 1990-1991, founder Pierre Mercado was responsible for four murders, in an attempt to intimidate other gangs. He fled to the Philippines and remained there for 11 years until he was extradited to the United States in 2012. In 2013, Mercado was sentenced to 218 years to life in prison.
In August 1997, the leader of the Asian Boyz Van Nuys set, Sothi Menh, was arrested in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and extradited to the United States after fleeing the country in the preceding January. He was wanted for committing five gang-related murders in the San Fernando Valley in 1995. In September 1998, Asian Boyz members were charged with three murders and five attempted murders.
On August 12, 2006, a fight broke out between Asian Bloods and ABZ gang members at a house in Lowell, Massachusetts, where a birthday party was being held. Asian Boyz members left the party and allegedly started throwing bottles and other objects. Billeoum Phan, 14, began firing at the Asian Boyz members. One of the shots hit Asian Boyz member Samnang Oth, killing him. Phan was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to incarceration until the age of 21, with an additional requirement to serve a 5-year probation after his release.
In December 2006, three members of the gang were charged with beating a 15-year-old boy named Sang Vu to death in New York. Richie Nguyen, who was 16, was sentenced to 5 to 15 years of prison for manslaughter. Samnang Chou was sentenced to 10 years of prison for second-degree assault.
In March 2008, four men followed 24-year-old Vutha Au from Santa Rosa and stopped at a gas station near Jenner, California, where they fatally shot him in public. Quentin Russell, who was age 24 at the time, was the shooter, and Sarith Prak, David Prak, and Preston Khaoone were charged in connection with the murder. All four defendants were convicted and sentenced to life without parole on July 27, 2012.
In March 2011, founder Marvin Mercado was sentenced to life imprisonment for his mid 90's murder of eight people.
According to the FBI's 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, an estimated 1,300-2,000 members comprise the nationwide gang although by 2018 that number has probably grown. Originally, most members were Cambodian with a small portion of Filipino members. In the 1980s, the Asian Boyz expanded across the United States though numerous factions stayed in California, where they are still concentrated, continuing throughout the Midwest and up the East Coast into the New England region. Their factions also have their own regional differences which may include distinctions in culture, identity, structure and ethnic exclusivity.
On the West Coast and originally, the Asian Boyz gang colors are Blue and Navy, similar to the Crips from which they learned from and are heavily influenced by. While their way of speaking and mannerisms are similar to those of Crips, they are known to dress in the fashion of West Coast trends dated to the 1980s and 1990s, though younger members are known to follow the trends of the current decade.
In the Midwest and on the East Coast, along with Blue and Navy, the gang also uses Forest Green, Black, and White. Their style of dress leans more towards Hip-Hop casual. In the Midwest, members are known to be of Hmong, Burmese, Karen and Thai descent while on the East Coast, specifically in New York, there are a lot more members of Korean and Chinese descent. Asian Boyz gang tattoos include the dragon head with crystal globes, a symbol of high rank and OG Status. Also common are Sak Yant tattoos that are supposed to offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits for the bearer.
The Asian Boyz has been in a long conflict with the Wah Ching gang. One of the first shootouts between the two gangs occurred in the 1990s in an El Monte pool hall. An Asian Boyz gang member, Lea Mek, was killed by Wah Ching gang member Chieu Luong Yang.
Another shootout between the two gangs occurred in San Marino that led to the deaths of two youths at a San Marino High School graduation party in June. After an investigation by the authorities, police claimed that when the Asian Boyz gang members arrived at the party, they noticed that Wah Ching gang members were there, prompting them to leave and return with weapons. At least nine gang members were arrested, and police seized five weapons from homes searched in conjunction with the arrests. The shootouts between the two gangs were called "Summer Madness" by the Asian Boyz gang.
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